6 Then the Lord God provided a shrub, and it grew up over Jonah, providing shade for his head and saving him from his misery. Jonah was very happy about the shrub. 7 But God provided a worm the next day at dawn, and it attacked the shrub so that it died. 8 Then as the sun rose God provided a dry east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint. He begged that he might die, saying, “It’s better for me to die than to live.”
9 God said to Jonah, “Is your anger about the shrub a good thing?”
Jonah said, “Yes, my anger is good—even to the point of death!”
10 But the Lord said, “You ‘pitied’ the shrub, for which you didn’t work and which you didn’t raise; it grew in a night and perished in a night.11 Yet for my part, can’t I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than one hundred twenty thousand people who can’t tell their right hand from their left, and also many animals” (Jonah 4:6-10, Common English Bible)?
Jonah has a serious problem. He is angry. That is not necessarily a bad thing. God gave us our emotions for a reason. When we see injustice and oppression, anger is the proper emotion. When we see people cheating or being cheated, anger is the proper emotion. When we see a person taking advantage of another, anger is the proper emotion. Jonah saw none of these things. He really doesn’t have a reason to be angry other than God wanting him to go to Nineveh and keeping the pressure on him until he relented and went to Nineveh anyway.
That could be a good reason to be angry. That being said, Jonah should have gotten over that a long time ago. If he is still angry over that, well, unresolved anger can be a real problem for any of us.
So, if Jonah has gotten over the “you’ve got to go even if you don’t want to,” situation, that would mean he was angry over at least one of a few different things:
- He was angry that God relented and let Nineveh live.
- He was angry that God destroyed the shrub.
- He was angry with God because of an accumulation of all the events. That happens to many.
- Or worst of all, Jonah was just an angry man. There is evidence of that being the case.
I share a problem with Jonah. I can have a pretty short fuse. I get angry. That can be the bad news for me and those who are close to me. To them, I will say what I have said many times before, I am sorry.
That is the bad news for me. What is better is, I don’t usually stay angry very long. I do realize and understand, there are consequences to unresolved anger and have developed the ability to let it go fairly quickly. I don’t think that is something Jonah had learned, at least not by this point in his life.
I did a little research and learned some of the consequences of unresolved anger. According to the government’s better health website (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people), these are definitely a few things Jonah could learn.
- digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
- increased anxiety
- high blood pressure
- skin problems, such as eczema
- heart attack
Whether our anger, like Jonah’s, is with God, or, is with those in the world around us, unresolved anger is dangerous, not just to others and to our relationships, it is dangerous to us personally.
Perhaps it would be best if we remembered Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger (Ephesians 4:6, Common English Bible). Remember, Paul doesn’t say, “Don’t get angry.” He doesn’t say, “It’s a sin to get angry.” He knows we will get angry and he knows getting angry is a natural thing. He simply says, don’t sin WHEN you get angry and don’t let it go unresolved.
Simply put, anger is not the enemy. It has its place. Anger that causes sin on our part or on the part of others, that is a different story. And anger that goes unresolved, well that is a bad thing for one part of God’s greatest creation, you and/or me.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thanksgiving,
P.S. Tomorrow we begin a new series, “Return to Me,” a study on the book of Malachi.
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved