Jonah 4:1-4 NIV But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Oh man, if I only had room to insert all of the book of Jonah right here, I would. But you know what? You’ve totally got time to go read the whole thing. It’ll take you about 12 minutes so I’m going to encourage you to go do that. Read The Message version if Bible language trips you up, just promise me you’ll read it—even if you’ve heard the story a million times already and know all the Jonah elementary school Bible songs. Are there songs about Jonah? There should be. What a goofy guy. Go read the whole thing and I’ll meet you back here.
His story is basically that He is entrusted with this really beautiful message of repentance and grace. He’s supposed to go tell the people of Nineveh: God is Holy, you’re far from Him, repent or He’s going to work out some justice in your life. Beautiful. Hard truth, but beautiful.
Instead of grace from the get-go, or burden for the people, instead of applying the message to his own heart, he immediately decides what God should hate and that’s the people of Nineveh. Instead of aiding in the relief of their sin, he becomes complicit in it, and chooses pride (one of the things God hates) and runs from the Lord.
Jonah never steps foot inside his own circle of holiness, he is only continually peering out at everyone else and judging what should be happening to them and I think it’s incredibly important to see what he ends up missing out on. Does God still use Him? Yes. Does He still have a relationship with God? Yes. Do the people still hear truth and turn to the Lord? Yes. Does God still do His thing and stay consistent with His character and love people? Yes. Including Jonah? Yes.
So what does Jonah miss out on by focusing on the sin of others and never letting the eyes of his heart be opened to see his own issues? He misses out on joy. He doesn’t get to experience the anticipation of a person running on mission, feeling the hope tinged all around the burden, the light just begging to break through. Even after God rescues him from the fish, he doesn’t stop to count the fruit and dance all around about his life being spared. When the miraculous eternal work of restoration and redemption happens in Nineveh, who should be the one with his hands held highest in the air? Whose heart should feel the lightest and the most full of praise? Who misses out on the most joy? Jonah.
In this conversation we're having about grace and truth - we can be the people wanting grace for all, or we can be the ones withholding it. Let's decide today: not to be like Jonah.
At the end of this story, we can be sitting alone and frustrated that God did what He said He would do, or we can be straight up celebrating and dancing with the rest of our people - thrilled that we got to be a part of it.
You can read about this idea and more in Dance Stand Run. Preorder today, get some fun gifts, and join a movement of women determined to dance in grace, stand our holy ground, and run on mission.