After Jonah agrees to God's plan for his life, he goes and preaches to the city of Ninevah, known for skinning people alive and letting them slowly die, and tells them that God will surely destroy them. And here's the amazing thing: they listen to him. They all repent, the people, the king, everyone. And God spares them. Isn't that awesome?
Except, here's the thing. If I'm Jonah... and I actually kind of am... I just did three days in a whale for essentially not going above and beyond in my faith, and now these crazy skinner/killer people basically got off with a warning. I'm Jonah. I didn't kill anybody, I'm a good person, I helped bring these people to faith... and now they've faced NO consequences for their actions.
I'm going to stop right here for a second. Okay, have you ever realized that someone annoys you or you even dislike them because you two are a lot alike? Meet my dad and I. I love him to death, but he can annoy and irritate me more than most people, and I've begun to realize that it's because we use the exact same tactics. Or maybe you've recorded yourself singing or speaking in public and you think you've done pretty well... and then you watch it and feel immediately like you need to destroy the recording. This is kind of how I felt listening to Jonah's story. When a.) Jonah goes to a desert to pout about other people being forgiven and b.) when God gives him a tree for shade and then kills it as a lesson in hopes of bringing him back and Jonah's like, "Ya, I AM mad about this, and I'd rather be dead right now"... I'm thinking, "What a jack-wait a minute..."
I try most of the time not to complain about things. Mostly because I hate when other people complain, so I think it's only fair. But, when I do complain... I don't really complain. I pout. In the most visible and epic fashion possible. Where it makes other people uncomfortable. And I don't pull this pouting skill set out too often, but when I do, watch out.
Why isn't Ali eating any food? Why is she sitting as far away from everyone as possible? Why is she refusing sunblock or aloe for her sunburn? Why is she visibly grimacing when people make jokes?
Oh, she's just pouting. She'll be fine in a while.
You could offer me a new car mid-pout, and guess what? I wouldn't take it. Because I'm busy being miserable and I don't want a new car to mess with that. Short of a desert, I'm Jonah.
And my mom said after the message that she couldn't understand why Jonah, who had a hand in bringing these people into God's presence and into faith, would be upset that God working through him actually worked.
But I get that.
I've helped people out, and then disliked them more than before. Actually, at least twice in my life, I was able and felt called to be a blessing in someone's life, and then later felt like they were judging my generosity. I definitely went full-Jonah for about 24 hours, and I think I still go semi-Jonah from time to time when I think about it. And I know some people don't struggle with this at all, but Jonah's story is MY story. Sometimes I think that life would probably be easier as a Ninevite human skinner, probably like Jonah did. But I know it wouldn't. I know that I need to embrace not just what God calls people to do, but his reason, his love, his purpose, his timing... the reason he created such diverse people with different strengths and weaknesses and struggles.
I told my mom once (when I was struggling) that I genuinely believe that everyone does the best they can in their lives, all the time. Because, why wouldn't they?
Even though I don't want to believe this... I still kind of do. I truly think that we're all people fighting different battles.