Jonah 4:4-5 “But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?’ Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.“
Jonah must have been pretty mad, alright. I mean, think about it. He’s talking to God, here. The Creator of the universe. The Master of everything. The All-powerful, Almighty King. Jonah was playing with fire by asking God to take his life (v.3). With a blink, God could do just that.
Man. After all that Jonah had been through, you’d think he’d learn. If I’d have been God, I’d have . . .
Well, let’s not go there. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not God.
But God, who had every right to lose his temper with this egotistical, self-centered, spoiled prophet, responded calmly to Jonah’s sass and self-pity. He asked a simple question: “Do you have a right to be angry?” Or, to be more specific, God said, “Tell me why you’re angry.”
You see, God knew what many of us don’t. Many times, when a person is angry, they just want someone to listen. They want to be heard. And no matter what we say to try to make them feel better, a person’s anger is often something they have to work through on their own.
Jonah didn’t answer God’s question. Instead, he stormed off. He found a place where he could sit and sulk.
But God . . .
I love those words – But God. We humans often have a way of responding to others in the heat of the moment, especially when we know we’re right and the other person is wrong. But God’s way of dealing with a heated situation is often different from our own. God always shows extreme patience and understanding and compassion, even when we’re being brats.
God asked Jonah a question, and gave him a chance to respond. He didn’t yell or holler or accuse or point fingers. God didn’t defend Himself or His actions right away. He gave Jonah time. He gave him space. And when Jonah chose not to respond, God didn’t force the issue. He didn’t stand in Jonah’s way and say, “No, sir, buddy. You’re not leaving until we finish this thing.” He didn’t bully Jonah into hearing God’s side of the story.
God gave Jonah something to think about, and then He gave Jonah the time and space to process it. He even showed Jonah love while Jonah was pouting, as we’ll see in the next verse.
Man. If only I would follow God’s example when someone is angry. While God responded with a simple question, I often respond with accusations. While God gave Jonah some quiet time, so he could cool off, I tend to follow the person around, spouting my case in a very loud voice. While God let Jonah have some space, I sometimes want to force myself and my opinions on the other person until they agree with me and admit they were wrong.
My way never seems to work out very well. Imagine that.
Next time a person says something that really annoys me, whether it is their own pity party, or an accusation against me or something I believe in, I’m going to try to respond like God would. I’m going to speak gently. I’m going to ask simple, thought-provoking questions and then be quiet. If and when they respond, I’m going to really listen. And I’m going to give them space, for I know that they will better hear God’s whisper if I’m not yelling in their face.
Dear Father, Thank You for Your perfect examples for human relationships. When someone is angry at me, or when someone makes me angry, help me to respond with a whispering love.