“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.’” Jonah 4:1-2
Jonah was angry. Why? Because God was too merciful, too gracious and too loving! Jonah understood God’s character very well. He fled to Tarshish because he didn’t want God to show mercy to the people of Nineveh.
To be fair Jonah had good reasons for not wanting Nineveh to repent. These people were Israel’s enemies and Jonah wanted God to wipe them out. History would later prove Jonah’s fears well-founded. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria which many years later attacked Israel and took it into captivity.
The book of Jonah ends abruptly with Jonah “angry enough to die”(verse 9). There is no indication he ever came to grips with God’s divine purposes. God’s ways are not our ways. He won’t necessarily wipe out those things which take us captive. God won’t run the world according to our agendas or necessarily answer our prayers to our satisfaction. How do we respond to a God we cannot control?
We can be like Jonah and stay openly angry with God. We can hide our disappointment with God under more attractive guises. Or we can acknowledge that God is Sovereign and has the right to do whatever he chooses. He is the Potter we are the clay.
Surprisingly it was the pagan sailors who had a better understanding of God’s Sovereignty and said, “For you, O Lord, have done as you pleased” (Jonah 1:14).