The Book of Jonah is very short, only four chapters. But in those four chapters God says so much.
Jonah is one of those stories that everyone knows to some extent, man gets swallowed by a whale (or fish) and gets spit back up on the beach. There is so much more to the story.
SheReadsTruth did a short plan on Jonah at the beginning of Lent, and it opened my eyes to the love and hope that can be found in those four short chapters.
You see, Jonah ran away. God asked him to take a trip and minister to the population of Nineveh, and Jonah ran away. He thought he knew best, and that the people of Nineveh deserved to the punishment God was contemplating for them. So he refused to try and save them.
I have been Jonah. I have been scared of what God put in my path so I ran in the other direction. I have turned away from God instead of turning towards God. But just as with Jonah, God does not punish me for running away. He welcomes me with open arms, welcoming me back. God commanded the fish to release Jonah, because God heard his prayer, and showed him mercy.
But I don’t always learn that lesson, sometimes I struggle to understand the infinite nature of God’s love. After the fish spit Jonah up on the beach, he went to Nineveh, and he brought them to the Lord. They believed and they were saved from God’s wrath. But this angered Jonah.
Jonah felt that some hearts are too far gone to ever be saved, or that they do not deserve to be saved. Jonah was angry at God’s mercy to these people. He was angry that the people of Nineveh did receive the wrath that he felt the rightly deserved. But our justice is not God’s justice.
Sometimes I struggle to understand why God is forgiving to some, or why others are not punished for their sins. But in those moments, I forget God’s grace. I forget that the gift that was given to me was given to everyone. Everyone.
Jonah’s story is one about a big fish, that’s the story that most people know. But Jonah is not really about the fish. It is about Christ’s sacrifice and his gift of grace to everyone.