Hunkered Down Devotions

Jonah 3:10-4:11 (Voice)
10 God saw all they did and how they turned from their evil ways. So He relented and decided not to unleash the disasters He said He would through His servant Jonah.
4 The mercy God extended toward Nineveh upset Jonah terribly. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. 2 So he prayed to the Eternal.
Jonah: Eternal One, isn’t this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? This is exactly the reason I ran away to Tarshish in the first place. I know how You are! I know that You are not like other gods, that You are full of grace and compassion, that it takes a lot to make You angry, and that Your loyal love is so great that You are always ready to relent from inflicting misery. 3 Eternal One, since You didn’t kill them, please take my life away from me. For my death now is so much better than my life tomorrow.
Eternal One: 4 Jonah, do you have any good reason to be angry?
5 Jonah headed east out of the city instead of west toward his home to look for a place high above the city to sit down. He found a suitable spot and built a shelter from the hot sun. He sat there waiting to see what might happen to the city. 6 Then the Eternal God chose a gourd plant to grow up and to shade Jonah from the discomfort of the intense heat. The large, thick leaves of this vine made Jonah very, very happy. 7 But at dawn the next day, God chose a worm to chew through the gourd’s vine; that night, it shriveled. 8 Then when the sun rose, God chose a scorching east wind to blow. As the sun beat down from a cloudless sky on Jonah’s head, he became faint. Again, he asked to die.
Jonah: My death now is so much better than my life tomorrow.
Eternal One: 9 Do you have any good reason to be angry about this gourd’s vine?
Jonah: Yes, I do. I’m angry enough to die.
Eternal One: 10 Jonah, don’t you understand? You care about this gourd’s vine, and yet you didn’t do anything to make it grow; you didn’t plant it, water it, or protect it. It appeared one night then died another. 11 Should I not have pity on that great city of Nineveh where there are more than 120,000 people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?

Grace and mercy are funny things.  We find them so comforting and something so desirable when we are on the receiving end of them.  But when those gifts fall on others’ shoulders, they seem like overly extravagant gifts, unnecessary expenses, wasted on undeserving recipients.
Jonah knows all to well the sins of the Ninevites, and how they have been oppressing his people.  It doesn’t matter to him that they have repented, they don’t deserve forgiveness, they don’t deserve grace. It is easy enough to say for Jonah.

God, however, has a different perspective. For God, the Ninevites has a special place in his heart, because they are his beloved children.  Jonah has a special place in his heart because he too is his child.  You and I have a special place in his heart as well.  All of us are his children.  The truth of the matter is that is hard not to have grace and it’s hard not be invested when your own children are involved.  

The challenge for us is to remember to celebrate in the grace that is extended to our brothers and sisters in the same way we would rejoice if it were being extended to us.  And to look for opportunities to be involved in extending that love, grace and redemption to our sisters and brothers, remembering that sooner or later we will be the ones in need.

Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the grace, love, and mercy that you have shown to us.  Help us share that with our sisters and brothers in need. Amen.

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