Big Fish…Big Attitude – Come On Lord!!!!

But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you may as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.”

The Lord responded, “Is your anger a good thing?” But Jonah went out from the city and sat down east of the city. There he made himself a hut and sat under it, in the shade, to see what would happen to the city (Jonah 4:1-5, Common English Bible).

If you have never been angry with God, there is a fairly good chance you haven’t had much difficulty in your life. When those times in life happen and everything seems to be piling up around you and you start to wonder, what you did that was so wrong God has every angel in heaven ganging up on you. As a result, you start getting madder and madder with each passing event and all that anger is pointed squarely at God.

I think that might be how Jonah felt by the time of our lesson. We also learn here that it is just what Jonah expected. In this lesson we see the motivation for Jonah becoming a runaway. He seems to know what God was going to do before God ever did it. It isn’t prophecy or anything like that. It would seem Jonah was bothered by the loving nature of God!.

We really aren’t sure exactly why Jonah is so upset. So what, God is going to show compassion on the people of Nineveh. Why would Jonah be so upset about this? I think the first possibility is, if Jonah goes to Nineveh and proclaims God’s wrath is about to happen and then God relents, Jonah ends up with egg on his face. He just might have been concerned about his self-image.

A second possibility is, he just didn’t think Nineveh deserved God’s compassion. It is much like the Pharisees didn’t think some people deserved compassion, all those who didn’t follow the law. The early Puritans didn’t see a point in compassion when God was such an angry God (for further reference read Jonathan Edwards classic sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”).

Make no mistake, Jonah is not a happy guy for whatever the reason. He is upset with God. I am not so sure it was OK for Jonah to be angry with God, after all, the things that Jonah proclaimed were not about Jonah. The things God forgave were not about Jonah. The compassion God showed to the people of Nineveh were not about Jonah. So, why did Jonah get mad at God and was it OK?

Honestly, I can’t answer the question. What I do know is, I believe the concept of being angry with God is not a sentence to eternity outside the presence of God. The parent who loses a child is most likely going to reach a stage of anger with God. I think that is probably OK. There are other circumstances where it would probably be OK as well. I am just not sure about Jonah.

One of my favorite quotes says, “It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.” What probably isn’t OK is to let our own stupidity, our own self-righteousness, our own poor judgement to be the source of our anger.

I also think it is probably not OK to stay angry with God. Our anger is our problem, not God’s. Whether our anger is with God or with another person, we have to learn to work our way through the anger and let it go. After all, when we are angry, we probably aren’t acting very loving, to God or to neighbor.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

In Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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