Ok, this is going to be one of those posts. A post that I’m thinking through as I’m typing.
The story of Jonah…
I have been studying God’s provision. One day, I simply looked up all the verses in the Bible with the words provide, provision, and provided in them.
Jonah 4 stood out in all of those because 3 times God provided something for Jonah.
The story goes something like this… Jonah was unhappy because God was forgiving the Ninevites. He had known that God would forgive and he was pretty much sorry that he had obeyed God and made the trip to Ninevah instead of continuing to run in disobedience.
Jonah says, “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, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
What does God say to that? He says, “Have you any right to be angry?”
Then Jonah 4:5-8 says, “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. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
Picture this with me. First of all, Jonah ran from God. Then, he was swallowed by a great fish. He was thrown up onto land. He went to Ninevah and prophesied. The people repented. Jonah was mad.
He went out on this hill to pout about this perceived injustice and found himself literally in the hot spot with God.
Jonah was sitting there waiting to see if God would punish the people or not, knowing God would not. He had built himself a shelter and God took it upon himself to provide a greater shelter through the miracle of a fast growing vine.
This made Jonah happy. God was again meeting his needs and he was again in physical comfort.
This shows Jonah’s heart. He cared more about himself than he did the spiritual health of the people in the city. He cared more about his own physical comfort than he did seeing an entire city saved. Jonah wasn’t there for what God wanted and desired but for what he wanted and desired.
Then, God provides again. This time, he provides a worm to chew up the vine. God took away Jonah’s shelter.
I can only imagine Jonah’s attitude now.
God provides again. A scorching, hot east wind and a blazing sun. No shelter. No comfort. Just HEAT.
Jonah wanted to die. Things weren’t going like he thought, he wanted nothing to do with God’s plan. He was angry and was giving God a bad attitude. Jonah didn’t like the hot seat.
The story goes on… “But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
What am I learning from this?
God provides. He is our provider. He owns it all and wants to share His blessings with us. He is excited to share good things with us.
But, He also provides in other ways. I always think of the word “provide” in a positive light. God is giving me something good.
This story shows us that isn’t always the case.
Here, we see God provide 2 things for Jonah that Jonah DID NOT want. God provided things that were not necessarily of themselves GOOD but they were GOOD FOR Jonah. Jonah needed the worm and the heat because God was doing something in his life.
God was showing Jonah important things and using these provisions as tools for teaching.
“This isn’t about you, Jonah. This is about those people in that city down there. They need me and I love them. Do you see that?”
When Jonah didn’t see, God provided things to help Jonah see. To get Jonah in a place where he could see what God was saying. Jonah was in the hot seat and God was meeting with him in that place of heat.
God provided ways that didn’t seem good or right but they were good things from God because they were going to do something good IN Jonah.
You see God DID care about Jonah and in some ways it WAS about him. God was doing something big and He was working in Jonah and in the Ninevites. He was working eternally. He was dealing with the inner parts of His people.
God was providing. And, it was good even if Jonah didn’t see it that way.
God is providing for us. And, it is good even if we don’t always see it that way.