But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left…’ JONAH 4:10–11 (NIV)
As I grew in my faith and began to understand more about God’s grace and mercy, there was something in the back of my mind that became increasingly unsettled. Yes, I was grateful for this in my own life, but I was not ok for Him to extend His grace and mercy to those who had wronged me.
Jonah found himself in a similar position, angry with Nineveh and calling out God’s judgement on the land. Not only did God send Him to warn the people of Nineveh to repent, but as soon as they did so the city and all the people were spared.
Jonah was as frustrated and angry as I would have been. It just didn’t seem fair that they would get off without punishment for all the wrongs they had done. Then God showed Jonah, through a plant no less, how much He really cared about the people of Nineveh, despite all they had done to turn away from Him. These beautiful words (v10,11), spoken with such compassion, reflect God’s heart for those who do not yet know Him and His understanding of our human weaknesses.
There is such hope to be found when we reflect on who God really is and His heart for us. This hope is not for those who deserve it, but is for those of us who have found ourselves caught up in the embrace of a loving God despite all we have done to turn away from Him.
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