Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Pushing through adversity”
Our Bible verse for today: “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 4:2 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Do you have the wrong image of God?”
It may surprise you to learn that Jonah had it right. “Having it right” is not what we typically remember Jonah for. Instead we remember him as the reluctant prophet who ended up spending three days in the belly of a whale for disobeying God. God instructed him to go the wicked city of Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah didn’t want to and so he didn’t. Instead he went in the opposite direction.
Long story short, after spending three days stewing in the digestive juices of a big whale, thinking about his errant ways and what it might take to get out of there, Jonah confessed his disobedience, agreed to do what he was told, went to Nineveh, preached God’s message, and saw a great movement of repentance from the Ninevites. But then Jonah got pouty and difficult again when he realized God wasn’t going to punish them. The short book ends with God admonishing Jonah and Jonah sulking.
So in what way did Jonah have it right? Verse 4:2 tells us that he knew that God is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love. He is a God who wants people to repent so He doesn’t have to punish them. He is a God who relents from sending calamity. That’s precisely what Jonah’s problem was. He hated the people of Nineveh and he didn’t want them to repent and to be forgiven. He wanted thunderbolts and lightening, fire and brimstone, punishment and damnation, not repentance and forgiveness. But he knew who God was and what God was like, and so he knew the Ninevites would be forgiven and not punished if they would only repent.
Sometimes we forget who God is and what He’s like. This can be especially true during those times when we’re dealing with adversity. Sometimes it can seem as if God punishes us unfairly, or abandons us in our times of struggles and doesn’t seem to care much. But that’s not who He is and that’s not what He’s like. Jonah had it right. God is gracious and compassionate, He is slow to anger and eager to forgive, and He does not want to see us suffering calamity if there is a way to avoid it. He might allow it, for a time and for a reason, but it’s not what He prefers and He wants it to end even more than we do.
Today is Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday. Will you be in church tomorrow? Will you worship the God who is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love; the God who is eager to deliver you from whatever it is you’re struggling with? That’s who God is and He will be waiting for you at the altar.