But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?
5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Public Domain KJV text from Wordproject.org
The book of Jonah is a remarkable portrayal of a gracious God and an ungracious missionary. It contrasts God, who demonstrated compassion to both people and animals, to a preacher who resented God’s compassion. Though Jonah fulfilled his prophetic duties, it came from a heart of grudging obedience rather than loving compassion. Yet God used this petty, narrow-minded prophet to share salvation’s hope.
Even when we are flawed and incomplete in grace, God can work through us to share heaven’s mercy with hurting hearts. It’s always about God’s heart, not ours.
Throughout the book, one word repeatedly reveals God’s heart: provided. God provided a fish and rescued Jonah from drowning. God provided a leafy plant-shelter from the sun. God provided a hungry worm and a scorching wind to expose Jonah to the callousness of his own heart. God always provides what we most need, either to rescue us or to expose our hearts and reveal our lack of compassionate grace.
How comforting that God always provides what is most needed, yes even for His beloved animals. May our hearts always mirror His compassion!
“You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!” Psalm 36:6,7.
Chaplain (currently disabled), Eugene, Oregon USA