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24/09/2012

Comfort or growth?

San and I were asked this question recently: "So go on then, what's Jonah's gourd all about?" Er... What exactly is a gourd when it's at home? Well, I've had a look.

Jonah was sitting in the desert waiting to see what God was going to do with Ninevah. He'd disobeyed God, ended up in a fish, and seen God extend grace and mercy to the Ninevites. It was hot and he was cross. Jonah did not feel that justice had been done. But what would happen if God only exercised justice apart from grace and mercy? None of us would survive!

God graciously finds a way to show Jonah his error and put him on the right path, yet again. He allows a vine (gourd) to grow over Jonah providing him with shade, but God also allows a worm to eat the vine. Jonah is furious.

What's so amazing about this passage is God's response to Jonah's anger. He does not condemn him for it, but neither does he condone it. He asks, simply, "Is it right for you to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4).  He acknowledges it, He understands it, and He wants to talk about it. What a patient Heavenly Father!

I know there have been times in my life when I've deserved rebuke, but instead I've received God's grace and mercy. Like Jonah, I can selfishly pout about small things in life that go wrong, but remain blind to the deep need of those around me in a town (like Ninevah) that needs His mercy. Like Jonah, I am sometimes consumed by concern for my own comfort, rather than the needs of a dying world. But there's something wrong when we place personal comfort over human souls. We so easily become dependent on circumstances, not the One who controls the circumstance.

The Bible tells us to be content no matter what the circumstance (Phil 4:11-13). It also says that we are each made for a unique purpose (2 Cor 5:5). Like Jonah, God wants to use us to grow his Kingdom. What a challenge, but what a calling!

Reading: Jonah 4:4-11
Question: What steps can we take to ensure that we don't prioritise personal comfort over the extension of God's Kingdom?
Next prayer meetings: 12.30pm tomorrow and 7.30pm Wednesday (both at THC)

Emma Hamberis

Posted by Emma Hamberis
08:17


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