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Angry at God’s Mercy

The book of Jonah tells of a prophet who was called to preach a message of repentance to his enemies. Jonah didn’t want to preach the message, so he ran from God. Through the course of events, Jonah found himself inside the belly of a great fish for three days. Proving that God can do anything to redirect and correct our path when we run from Him. The problems that Jonah encountered were self-inflicted but allowed by God to teach him obedience.

Once Jonah repented himself, he then preached the message of repentance to his enemies. The people responded positively, and God spared their lives and saved their city. This made Jonah very mad because he had hoped his enemies would reject the message and receive the punishment they deserved.

We can learn a lesson about God’s mercy from this story. Mercy is at work when a judgment is deserved, but it’s withheld. It’s like getting pulled over by a policeman because we were speeding and only receiving a warning. We deserved a ticket, but instead, we were given mercy. God is full of mercy to those who repent and turn to Him. Jonah knew this about God because we can read about his anger at God’s mercy.

Jonah was really upset and angry. 2 So he prayed:

Our Lord, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn’t destroy Nineveh. That’s why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone, not even foreigners.

Jonah 4:1–2 (CEV)

How many times have we felt like Jonah? God calls us to live for him and to proclaim His goodness even to those who have been our enemies. It’s hard to forgive, forget, and move on to what God wants us to do when dealing with our anger and frustrations caused by other people. We must remember that God has given us the same gift of mercy that we didn’t deserve, and He wants to give that same mercy to others we don’t feel deserve mercy.

In the closing verse of the book of Jonah, God asks a question that is relevant today. He says, “In that city, there are thousands of people who are lost, shouldn’t I be concerned for them?”

God is concerned about reaching EVERYONE, and so should we. We are called to shine our light into the dark places, even those places we don’t feel deserve the light. As we seek Him, we must seek His heart. His heart desires to save all who are lost. May our hearts be full of mercy, just like His.


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