“And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’” vs. 4
This section of the Jonah story gets at an essential truth about human nature with both precision and humor. Jonah reluctantly does as the Lord has commanded him. He goes to Nineveh, Israel’s enemy, and preaches that people should repent or be destroyed…and they do! His mission is successful and the Lord calls off the planned destruction…which seems the proper thing to do. But Jonah is displeased. He does not like serving a God who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…and who relents from punishing. So he pouts, stewing in his personal indignation and anger at God. And then the Lord asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” It’s a good question, one that many of us struggle with in a variety of circumstances. Obviously, there are times when anger is justified and proper. It’s a feeling that bubbles out of us in the presence of wickedness and evil. But Jonah was angry about God’s mercy…a response that strikes a chord with those who love it when bad things happen to bad people. That kind of anger just isn’t appropriate for those who claim a connection to Jesus. When we serve a God who delights in repentance and forgiveness, there’s just no room for being angry when the bad guys don’t get what was coming to them.
Thought for the Day: Times when I’ve been angry in the presence of mercy.