It's time to confess, we ALL throw tantrums. I imagine if you are reading this blog you are older than toddler age, unless you are a child prodigy who stumbled upon it. Those of us in our teens, twenties and older have experienced this ongoing temptation to tantrum. If you are reading this and thinking, "No Kristin, I disagree, maybe you still throw tantrums about things but I am certainly above it," let me give you some examples to test your humility in this area. If you're in middle school or high school have you ever thrown a fit because your parents wouldn't let you go see the movie "everyone is going to"? What about when your parents want you to be home at 11pm when "everyone else gets to choose their curfew"? How about when your friends get new cars and you have to work three jobs just to try and buy a used car off craig's list? Adults, how about when you receive an assignment for work that you weren't expecting when you are already working overtime? How about when you hit traffic on the only day all week you get out of the office on time? How about when you ask God for something and it doesn't go your way? This last question is what I want to focus on. Often we throw tantrums because things don't go our way. As I read Jonah today I was reminded of my own pride, God's grace on me and the need to embrace his ways over my own.
In Jonah 1:2 we see God calling Jonah to go tell the people of Nineveh of their wickedness and God's righteous anger toward their sin. In v. 3 we see that Jonah jumps ship to Tarshish blatantly running away from the Lord's command because God is asking him to do something he does not want to do (isn't this where all our tantrums start too?). We know this is never a good sign, so what happens? The ship Jonah is on encounters a huge storm. Jonah acknowledges the storm is from God who is trying to get his attention and soon we see that he is cast into the water and swallowed by a whale. While in the belly of the whale we see Jonah humble himself before the Lord thanking God for saving him from drowning in the sea and confessing that it is better to obey God then run away from him in disobedience. Jonah 2:8-9 says "...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs," then he continues, "But I...will sacrifice to you." Jonah recognizes in his humility that depending on anything other than God is a waste of time so he now decides to obey God's earlier command (Jonah 3:3). Then in chapter 3 we see that things don't go as Jonah expected. Instead of punishing the people of Nineveh for their wickedness God has compassion on them because of their repentance. The book ends with Jonah throwing a tantrum because things did not go his way.
Often times we act like Jonah. We only want to obey God when he asks us to do something that sits well with us. However, when he asks us to do something that we don't want to do, don't understand, or something that ends up not turning out as we had expected we become angry with him. And in turn God says to us in these moments the same thing he said to Jonah, "Have you any right to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4).
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says the LORD, "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher then your ways, and my thoughts then your thoughts." We must remember this truth and embrace it instead of viewing it as a stumbling block. The "my way or the highway" mentality doesn't sit well with God. It's not about us! Life is not about everything going my way. Our purpose in life is to bring God glory. Colossians 1:16b says, "we were created by him and for him."
He is all-knowing, we are not. He knows what is best for us, we do not. Maybe what Jonah needed to see was the beauty of God's compassion (Jonah 3:10 "When God saw what they [the people of Nineveh] did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened."). But Jonah missed out on rejoicing in how compassionate God is because he was throwing a tantrum over not getting HIS way (seeing Nineveh receive the punishment he thought they deserved).
Praise God for his compassion on Nineveh and His compassion on Jonah and us when we are prideful (insisting on our own way) and disobedient.
Let us live out Jonah 2:8-9 ""...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs... But I...will sacrifice to you" not expecting to get what we want from God, but expecting to receive what God knows is best for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future."
Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
Psalm 9:10 "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."
Praise the Lord that we have the gift of freely reading the Bible everyday so that we may know His truth and be encouraged by it daily!