“It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, is not this what I said..? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’
“Jonah went out of the city and sat.. under [a booth] in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant,.. a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’ But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you do well to be angry for the plant?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.’ And the Lord said, ‘You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. Should not I pity Nineveh, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?’” Jonah 4:1-11
God has a way of asking questions that expose our hearts. Jonah’s anger was pinpointed because it was the root of his disobedience in rebelling against God’s command and running away in the first place. Anger that made him want to die, because he thought the Ninevites deserved no favor, and he deserved it all, was anger that must be reckoned with, and the Lord has His way of doing just that.
Jonah knew God’s irresistible mercy and love, but he did not like that the wicked Ninevites would be softened and brought to forgiveness by it. When God gave him relief from heat as he watched the heathen city, he began to think he had a right to that comfort. God’s questions implied that Jonah did not do well to reject His good and sovereign plans, question His judgment, or expect mercy when he was unwilling to extend it. What actually did well in the book of Jonah was not his attitude or manner with God, but the truth he proclaimed as it had its way in the city God pitied.
Do I do well to rejoice over the salvation of others, no matter what their past? Do I do well in aligning my allegiances and emotions with the Lord’s in His plans for His people? Do I do well in giving my all to serve His causes?
Lord God, You do all things well. Adjust my thinking and attitudes to be like Yours. (Mark 7:37; Philippians 2:1-8)