When was the last time you studied the book of Jonah? It is a short read, with only four chapters. But, oh, how powerful are the spiritual insights contained in those four chapters.
I have referred to Jonah as a perfect party planner – a pity party planner that is. When we read through the book of Jonah the following points are significant for our understanding of how to avoid planning and carrying out our own pity party.
(1) Set up your self-centered shelter where you can sulk. We see that in Jonah 4:5.
Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.
(2) Seek happiness in what is unimportant. That is Jonah 4:6.
So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.
(3) Be dismayed when God removes what is hindering you from serving Him. Jonah 4:7.
But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.
(4) Think the whole world is against you and life is not worth living when God is merely drawing you back to Himself. Jonah 4:8.
When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
(5) The result of your well-orchestrated pity party is misery. Jonah 4:9.
Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”
Throwing a pity party is a steady descent into an emotional abyss. BUT, there is hope even there! Psalm 69:14-15 says:
Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink;
May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters. May the flood of water not overflow me
Nor the deep swallow me up, Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.
God is gracious and loving even when we are wallowing in self-pity. Jonah 4:10-11 shows us that God walks Jonah out of his emotionally distressed state and back into the reality of His love for people.
Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
Have you considered who the 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and their left hand are? Those 120,000 persons are children. God concerned Himself with the children of Ninevah. Jonah was too focused on himself and his desires to understand God’s love for those Jonah thought untouchable.
What is God showing us today through this prophet? God is reminding us that He is the One who sets His love upon people and desires that they hear the life-saving message of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must never get to a place where we think God is mistaken for sending us to people we believe are not worthy of the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. What might have been the outcome of your life if people thought that way about you?
There is no benefit to resisting what God is leading you to do. When we allow our stubbornness to foment rebellion against God we are setting ourselves up for heartache and distress. Self-pity exhibits a heart that is not surrendered to God and does not have God’s perspective.
So how should we respond when God calls us to go somewhere on assignment for Him or do something for Him? We should respond by saying, “Yes Lord, I will go or I will speak as You lead me.” In our day of increasing darkness, the only light, the only hope we have to offer anyone is that God is in control of all the affairs of man; that God is still saving people, and that God is still calling His people to unity so that His mission in the world will be completed. What matters to God is that His people are found faithful to tell everyone He sends us to that Jesus saves. Romans 15:7 reminds us to pursue the bond of unity with love for one another so that in our common lives we honor God.
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
Ephesians 4:32 is of paramount importance for healthy body life.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Christians are strong when we love one another. May we increase our efforts to love God, obeying Him in all things for the salvation of all those yet to be added to His glorious eternal kingdom. While we are here in this world let us show appreciation for one another and encourage the brethren daily. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us of this.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
God’s abundant blessings and favor be upon all of you today.
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Dr. Mike Spaulding
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