Jonah 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.
It strikes me that Jonah is a fairly extreme example of God using imperfect human beings. As is common with us all, Jonah wanted to call the shots, to be in control rather than submit to and obey God. The whole story arises from his trying to run the other direction when God told him to go to Nineveh, and here, after God had used extraordinarily dramatic means to turn him around and get him to Nineveh to deliver His message, he still wanted to be in control of what happened to the city. We might laugh at Jonah, but we are far more like him than we care to admit. We too get mad at God when things don’t go the way we would like them to. We too argue with Him, if we are even aware of His speaking to us, because somehow we think we know better than He does. That is the height of foolishness, but even when we recognize it in others, we fail to do so in ourselves. God does expect us to use the mind He has given us, discerning and making decisions, but we must always remember that we have at best a small subset of the total facts about a situation, and even then, what we think we know may be mistaken. On top of that, there are limits to our decision-making ability itself. When we are aware of all of that we are grateful that God is God, but often we forget it in practice and get mad at Him, just like Jonah did. The answer to it all is humility, along with the assurance that God often chooses to use us in spite of ourselves. When that is our attitude, we will be filled with gratitude, and that is the key to a happy, fulfilled life.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been mad at God, but I’ve certainly tried to get around what I knew He had said. I certainly have an innate desire to be in the driver’s seat! Around the time I was in seminary a popular bumper sticker said, “God is my Co-pilot.” It wasn’t long after that that someone pointed out, “If God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat.” One of the few times God has spoken to me in what might as well have been an audible voice, I was lying in bed thinking about how many things I wished were different. I wasn’t consciously praying, but suddenly He broke in with, “How do you think I feel?” I was filled with the awareness that much of what God allows at this point isn’t because He wants things to be this way, but because His incredible, gracious plan of the ages works through all of this to bring everything to a better conclusion than I could even imagine. Several years ago I was talking with a young, dedicated Christian who was talking about various elements of his circumstances that “he didn’t know why God had done things that way.” Rather matter-of-factly I said, “So, you’re mad at God.” He reacted like I’d kicked him in the stomach, because he recognized his rebellion and repented of it. He has continued to grow in his dedication and obedience to God, and I am proud to consider him a son in the faith.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your continuing grace toward me, on more levels than I am even aware. Help me indeed let You be God and be fully available to You for however You want to use me, or not, as You choose, for the sake of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!