The Lord god appointed a plant...
to provide shade,
to ease Jonah's discomfort.
Jonah was greatly pleased.
What was Jonah's discomfort?
Was it just the blazing heat,
the long days of travel,
the loneliness of being a prophet?
Or was it that he chose to sit
and see the destruction of evil
only to find God's mercy greater?
Yet, God still eased it.
Knowing Jonah's heart...
God set out to ease him.
Until He appointed a worm (v7)
and the scorching east wind (v8)
turning his gratitude to bitterness.
How like Jonah we often are.
Pleased when God works things for us.
Struggling with "Why?" when He does not.
He is our Sovereign Appointment,
able to cause all things
to work together for good...
even the things we detest.
Who are we to second guess God?
The Creator of all things,
the Owner of the whole earth,
The Director of our way.
Let us trust Him even when
we have no right reasoning
for the circumstances.
Let us stand in awe
that He can, and does appoint;
that He can cause to grow,
as well as to whither.
Lord God, humble my heart
to never question Your goodness
no matter my bitter heart.
Jonah ran away from the voice of God calling Him to work. He was a prophet, after all. But Jonah didn't prefer the assignment... the people he considered enemies.
It's not that Jonah was ignorant of the ways of God. He just didn'prefer to go tell these people to repent, because he KNEW the merciful character of His God.
Jonah KNEW that God would relent from punishing the Ninevites once they turned their hearts to Him. And isn't that what we see here, as Jonah cries out from the belly of the fish? A heart coming to understanding that it was wrong; a soul crying out to God for forgiveness.
Jonah KNEW the worth and value of God's love and mercy. He counted on it. One could say that he even ran the other way, knowing that one day God would forgive him. He just hoped it would be after God chose someone else to speak to Nineveh.
Jonah was walking the plank of grace... even before we lived under a covenant of it. And I totally relate because I do it too. As if somehow I can reason my way out of what God has told my heart to do... because I know He'll forgive me if I don't.
But that isn't the way to see His mercy.... that isn't a heart that understands God as Our Worthy Love. For whatever we turn toward becomes our idol... maybe not a statue of stone or wood. But an idol all the same.
Our busy schedule.
Our hectic pace.
Even choosing our friends over those God tells us to pursue... to reach out toward, to invite.
Jonah prays the verse of the Psalmist...
I hate those who are
devoted to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
Psalm 31:6 HCSB
But does that preclude him from being an idol worshipper too? Just because we say we hate another's behavior does not mean we aren't guilty of the same. Just because we perform it in a different fashion, putting our own spin on it doesn't allow us more grace.
Let us read this Psalm from a more original text rather than interpreted for our common. English...
I have hated them that have
regard for lying vanities;
but I trust in the Lord.
Psalm 31:6 KJV21
regard for lying vanities...
Wow! I have to admit, that's a most accurate depiction of idolatry. For isn't anything we hope in besides God... a lying vanity? Aren't we trusting something, someone or some way of life to fulfill us, only to be seduced by it's lie?
This is a slippery slope at best. For I do not wish to become a hypocrite condemning this prophet's perspective, when mine is no better. I too have been guilty of sin, only to point my finger at another's.
But as for today, I will ask the Lord to daily remind me why I can trust alone in His Worthy Love.
The compassion of our God is not dependent upon our behavior.
Compassion is defined as a deep sympathy, a sorrow for one stricken by misfortune accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
No where in the definition do we find cause and effect. The one suffering could actually be wandering in self-inflicted pain, yet they still can be the object of compassion. This was the case of Israel under the reign of yet another king who walked in evil ways.
But like the definition, our God sees past a wrong leader to the hearts of those led astray; those who suffer from the higher evil over them. And He saw that they had no one to rescue them. There was no wise guide or prophet available for Him to call.
So even in the midst of an evil king's life, God can work good for His people. For He made a covenant... a promise not to blot out the name of Israel. And our God is the most faithful at keeping His promises.
How grateful I am, that no matter our circumstance... no matter our leadership, we can rely on the deliverance of Our Compassionate Keeper.
This was the Shunemite woman. The very same woman who made room in her life for the prophet Elisha. She and her husband served the Lord by acting on the desire to provide a room for him to stay at their house as he traveled.
And in return, Elisha desired to fill an empty place in her life and he prophesied that she would hold a son in her arms. A son who died and was restored to life through faith.
So when Elisha warned this woman of an impending famine, she and her family moved away. And here we encounter her return after seven years.
But she found it all gone; her property, her home and her income potential. But amazingly, the moment she walks into the king's court to plea her case, Elisha's servant is in the middle of telling the king how her son was raised to life.
Let us ever be grateful for the God of perfect timing. Tender is this king's heart for her before he ever meets her because God has prepared a way. And to her, not only is all her land and property restored... given back as it was before, but she is repaid all the income she would have made off her land, as if she never left.
This king is the earthly expression of Our Gracious and Faithful Restorer. For it is God who owns it all. And Heciscable to bring us back...
after our days of lack,
after our days of wandering,
after our loss and emptiness.
How grateful I am for His amazing desire to restore us, even before we step into His presence to ask.
Ask the Lord for rain
in the season of spring rain.
The Lord makes the rain clouds,
and He will give them showers of rain
and crops in the field for everyone.
Maybe you never asked for rain,
but God sees your drought of joy.
Maybe your circumstances seem cloudy,
but God holds a storehouse of blessing.
Maybe you've never planted a thing
but God has a harvest of good for your life.
Trust in the Lord to restore you.
Allow Him to bring you back
to the original purpose you were created.
So you may live in the abundance.
of His gracious and faithful love.
Just when you think you've run out of ideas... your are revived with a new solution to your problem. And oh how easy it is to take credit for the best of ideas.
But consider that our God, the Creator of all good things, spoke the world into being. So could it be that those words... that great idea... even the thought which revived, could have been from Him?
Several time in the Bible
we ready the phrase,
"The Lord put it into the mind of..."
How wonderful that our God is not distant, not sitting high on His throne distracted only by grand needs of the world. He actually cares about each and every concern we have and will put new ideas into our minds, if only we will be receptive to Him.
It's often so easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of today that we don't take time to ask Him, don't slow down to listen, don't look up to thank Him. And unfortunately if we continue at that pace, we will end up much like the Israelites of old... torn away from thoughts of God by temporary trappings of this world.
Bur our God is one of redemption and second chances. For even the Israelites were given a new covenanr.
But this is the covenant
that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be My people.
And each person will not teach his fellow citizen,
and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know Me,
from the least to the greatest of them.
God is always speaking.
God is always available.
God is ready and able
to put ideas in our minds...
as well as those from whom we need favor.
Will you ask Him today?
Will you trust Him?
The Influencer of Thought is only a whispered prayer away.
Check out more: