1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
How many times do we get frustrated at God’s kindness? Maybe even when He shows us grace and mercy we feel we don’t deserve it and would rather die in our sin than be redeemed by His love. We see now the full scope of Jonah’s disdain for God’s decision to redeem Nineveh. Jonah was close enough with God and knew that He was going to draw them to repentance, which Jonah didn’t feel they deserved.
In considering the implications of God’s pure love and mercy upon His children, we can’t help be annoyed by it sometimes. Just like we read in Jesus’ parable of the landowner that hired people throughout the day but paid them all the same, even the guys hired in the last working hour of the day (Matthew 20:1-16). We think this is unfair unless we are that person hired in the final hour. What about serial murderers and rapists who in prison or even right before they die recognize their sinfulness and repent in their hearts? Surely we don’t think it is fair, but God does.
There are many examples throughout the Scriptures of people being forgiven of their sinful ways and redeemed because of God’s loving grace and mercy for His people. On a human level we compare our sins, thinking that some are worse than others, but they are all punishable by death: from white lies to mass murder. In Isaiah 30, we read the prophet speaking to Israel the truth of God’s love. Like most any parent, He wishes to pour out His blessings upon us: forgiveness, grace, and mercy. These are the qualities of His love:
18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
So then when God shows His grace and mercy upon those whom we think don’t deserve it (really, none of us deserve grace, that’s why it is called grace), we should rejoice with Him, not argue. Because we can look back to that day when we received His grace in full and how thankful we were because at that moment, we were the worker hired in the final hour to receive a full day’s wages (reference to Matthew 20).
How do you feel when God shows mercy and grace to others? Do you realize that He calls us to show the same to those who don’t deserve it? His love and mercy was not bestowed upon us to keep to ourselves, but to pass on and reveal the true love of God.