Is It Right For You To Be Angry?

Jonah was a self-absorbed prophet. Maybe that’s why his story is so timely. We can all get more focused on our stuff than on the salvation of others. God help us.

At the end of Jonah’s, shall we say, adventure, God asks him two times if it is right for him to be angry. The first time it is in reference to Jonah’s anger that God is merciful to the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4:4). Jonah doesn’t give an answer. He’s in a huff. He’s busy building a shelter to block the sun so he can wait and see if God destroys the city.

It’s interesting to note, that Jonah is angry because he knows God is slow to anger (Jonah 4:2). This contrast shows the incredulity of Jonah’s frustration. God is slow to become angry, and that makes Jonah mad. Jonah wants divine vengeance. He doesn’t want to see God forgive a people he loathes.

Then God gives Jonah yet another object lesson. To be honest, Jonah’s whole life seems to be one big object lesson. God allows a plant to grow and shade the angry prophet. And then God destroys the plant. Instead of destroying the people, he destroy’s Jonah’s plant. The irony is palpable.

Then God asks him a second time, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (Jonah 4:9). This time Jonah answers, “Yes! It is right for me to be angry about the plant! I’m angry enough to die!”

Wow, what a heartfelt and honest rant! What a self-condemnatory statement. I’d rather have my comfort than for them to have God’s salvation. How many thoughts and mutterings in our lives could fit into this category? We can be awful dumb just link Jonah, can’t we?

The most redemptive part of the story of Jonah is that Jonah is the one who wrote it. He puts his most embarrassing moments on display so we can learn from his mistakes.  So, what ways are you more concerned about your comforts, your assumptions about what God owes you, than you are about sharing the beautiful story of God’s compassion and forgiveness?

Remember, you were a lost cause too when God brought the gospel to you. Someone inconvenienced themselves so that you might hear the gospel. Let us go and do the same.