When was the last time you pouted?
We've all experienced little children pouting when they don't get their favorite popsicle or when they're told to go to bed. Why do they pout? Because they didn't get what they want, when they wanted it, and in the manner in which they wanted it.
When little children pout, we often justify it - "they're only little and don't understand." At minimum, we tolerate their pouting, and sometimes we even call it cute. But kids aren't the only ones who pout; in fact, you pout regularly. Even prophets of God have been known to pout!
Jonah, of course, is our pouting prophet. He pouts when Nineveh isn't judged (4:3) and again when the weather isn't ideal (4:8). This messenger of God, even after witnessing tens of thousands of salvations, still finds a reason to pout.
What can we learn from Jonah? Here it is: our hearts are fickle.
We find happiness and comfort in the most insignificant of things. Just like Jonah's joy was a result of a cool breeze and some shade (4:6), we find joy in an air-conditioned home and a widescreen television. Just like Jonah was angered when the sun beat down on his head, we are angered when our comfort is invaded and compromised.
Instead of living for the magnificent Kingdom of God and participating in the eternal opportunities that the Lord sends our way, we're quick to live for ourselves and pout when we don't get our way. How sad!
As I conclude this series on Jonah, I've been reminded again how similar I am to the pouting prophet. I wish I could look in the mirror and see myself as the anti-Jonah, but regrettably, there are many more commonalities than I would like to admit. How about you?
But more than that, I've been reminded again how patient God was with Jonah. Look at how many times, even in chapter 4, God speaks patiently to his pouting prophet. He doesn't wipe him off the face of the earth; he doesn't revoke his prophet status. He counsels him with patience and love.
Yes, you and I are more like Jonah than unlike him, but God is more patient with us than we realize. This book of the Bible wasn't written as much to reveal our weaknesses as it was written to reveal God's character. The book of Jonah itself is evidence of that; God is giving us grace through this story!
Take advantage of that grace and learn the lessons he would have for you from the life of Jonah. But when you stumble just like Jonah did, remember that God will not give up on you, just as he never gave up on Jonah, the pouting prophet.
Paul David Tripp
- Compare your pouting to the pouting of a young child. How is it similar?
- Where do you find comfort and happiness? What happens when that comfort is taken away?
- How can you find comfort in the Person and work of Jesus Christ?
- What eternal opportunities did God place in your path this past week? If you didn't take full advantage, what can you do when they come again?