Tough Love - 30 August 2018

Neville Turley

“Remember that the Lord your God corrects and punishes you just as parents discipline their children.” Deuteronomy 8:5 (GNB)

God’s heart goes out to Jonah in his makeshift shelter. To ease Jonah’s lot, God caused a plant to grow and shade Jonah from the wind and the searing sun. Jonah was very grateful for the plant and enjoyed the shade it brought.

However, it was not pity that Jonah needed but what we now describe as tough love.

The very next day God ordered a worm to destroy the plant. Jonah was devastated that the plant had died, and matters got worse. “After the sun had risen, God sent a hot east wind, and Jonah was about to faint from the heat of the sun beating down on his head. So he wished he were dead. “I am better off dead than alive,” he said.” (Jonah 4:8)

Like the storm clouds that hovered over Jonah’s head when he was on board the ship from Joppa, so now the dark clouds of depression overshadowed his mind, impairing his judgement.

Jonah had been angry with God because Nineveh had been spared. The Israelites had suffered at the hands of the violent, barbaric Assyrians. Jonah could not understand how God could reach out in love to them. 

Now Jonah was angry with God again. God had allowed a worm to destroy the plant that had given Jonah so much comfort. Once more a firm and compassionate Father had to take Jonah to task. 

God appeals to Jonah to get his priorities right and see the fuller picture. You pity the plant!  “How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!” (Jonah 4:11)

The overriding theme in the book of Jonah is God’s compassion and concern that all people everywhere should know and respond in loving obedience to him. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father you are the source of all that is good in our lives. Grant us grace that under the Holy Spirit we may know and honour you. In Jesus name. Amen

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