(May 7, 2020)

Jonah 4:9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.

Jonah, who had been forgiven so very much – who had intentionally been so disobedient – is now mad at God for showing the same mercy that he had already received. God says, “Jonah, do you really have any right to be angry?” And Jonah yells, “I am angry enough to die.”

The prophet is having a temper tantrum. He is acting like a child.

…What do you think? Is Jonah the Prophet spiritually mature or immature? Does he know God or not? What do you think of him? (Reflect on this for a moment.)

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Today, a thought and an application.

First, the thought: I do not think this is Jonah’s best moment. This is the “old self” (see Ephesians). He is whining, just like children do. Think back on a time when your children whined at you – or perhaps when you complained to your parents – or simply just watch a young family. We don’t have to wait long to think of something, do we?

Now that you have that complaining child in mind, try to imagine this: a perfectly patient, loving parent responding in just the right way in love and grace in that difficult moment. Yes, it’s hard to respond like that! We can’t do it.

So in this mental picture, Jonah is the child and the parent is God.

Why can a child whine to his parents? Because the child is safe, loved, secure. Maybe Jonah threw a temper tantrum because he was immature. But on the other hand, maybe he threw a fit precisely because he did know God that well. That he fully and truly knew he belonged to his Heavenly Father through and through. After all, we already noted that Jonah is the “son of the beloved” (1:1). And a child will not typically throw a fit to a stranger the way he will to someone he is close to. What if the tantrum is conveying …Intimacy.

Maybe Jonah really did know God that well. Consider the closeness amidst complaining in verse 2: “He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Yes, you can hear the whining, but it sounds like Jonah knew God’s heart rather well.

Now, your application: If you know that you know that you belong to God – if you have that kind of intimacy – then go ahead and throw a spiritual tantrum. Tell Him you are sick of the virus, sick of social distancing, sick of the loneliness, and sick of people being sick.

Because only a child can speak to their Father like that. Throw a fit if you tantrum is an affirmation of faith. Then let Your Father wrap His arms around you.