Jonah 4: 6, 7, 8 The Lord (God) provided …
The turn of phrase in this chapter is very instructive. We think of God providing things we want, but we don’t think of Him providing things we don’t want. Providing a vine for shade seems all well and good, but providing a worm to chew the vine and then providing a scorching east wind seems very strange to us. But God wanted to show Jonah, and by extension us, the dangers of anger. As others have pointed out, anger directed outwards is ultimately murderous, and directed inward is ultimately suicidal. Neither could hardly be said to be good! Jonah needed a lesson he could understand, so God provided it in three steps, with explanation following. As I am reminded frequently, God is far more interested in our character than our comfort. We rejoice when He provides things that feel good, but we tend not to rejoice when He provides things that grow us to be more like Christ. The New Testament talks about this repeatedly. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) Actually, there are many more passages as well. God provides what we need, but when that doesn’t agree with what we think we need, we get frustrated, angry, and depressed. We need to trust Him to know what we need better than we do, and indeed, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Ouch! I’m writing to myself here! I need to remember that whereas many things are indeed attacks of the devil, I need to thank God for them because He allows (provides) them for my good. As Andrae Crouch wrote so memorably, “If I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could solve them; I wouldn’t know what faith in God could do.” I’ve loved that song ever since I first heard it over 40 years ago, but I still don’t always remember that truth to apply it. At times I am amazed at how stubbornly ignorant I am, refusing to learn the lessons God provides for me. As a teacher myself I certainly should understand that good lessons seldom come without effort to learn them. I need to apply myself to learn the lessons He provides, for my blessing and His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s interesting how seldom I hear anything completely new from You. That reinforces the point You’ve been making here! Help me indeed learn the lessons You provide, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You just as You have told me, so that all of the plans of the enemy may be destroyed and all of Your plans fulfilled, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!