Sometimes I think God sends us into the yucky places on purpose. He told Jonah to go to Ninevah–a city with a sinful reputation. He told John the Baptist to go out into the wilderness to make a way for the Messiah. Jesus hung out with sinners. All of these men had a message of repentance: turn away from sin.
Jonah didn’t want to go, didn’t want to do it; and when he did go and do, he had a bad attitude about it.
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 3 Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
4 The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Jonah 4:1-4, NLT.
John went and preached passionately and people thought he was crazy.
18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ Matthew 11:18, NLT.
Jesus met people wherever they were in life, and he was pronounced guilty by association.
19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results. Matthew 11:19, NLT.
Maybe, like in Jonah’s case, the journey has a two-fold purpose: to accomplish a job for God in the world and inside of us. Ninevah received Jonah’s message: mission accomplished! But instead of rejoicing, Jonah was mad and God dealt with him and his heart issue.
I can’t choose how people will think of me, but I can choose how I respond to a situation. Whether the lesson is for me or for someone else, all I know is there’s no place I’d rather be than where God wants me.
Father God, help me to have a better attitude when I find myself in yucky situations. Thank you for meeting me where I am–loving me so much not to leave me in my sin, but to meet me where I am and help me through it.
These few chapters speak of so many other issues: leadership, obedience, transformation, perseverance, God’s sovereignty, mercy and love. What did you notice when you read them?