9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
The end of the story of Jonah seems a bit abrupt, but God is making a point here. We always feel justified in our anger against others. God caused a tree to grow and cover Jonah for a day and then took it away the next day to show Jonah that while God still loved him, He caused some troubles to come his way and He is in control of all things. Yet God changes the focus in this final part of His conversation with Jonah in that He reveals that Jonah had nothing to do with the tree. Jonah was only able to enjoy its shade or curse its spoiled state. Jonah had no control over neither the growth of the tree nor its decay; God did. Yet, God is pointing out that Jonah still had feelings for the tree, even if they were selfish. God, on the other hand, was the reason that the Ninevites were alive, so why then shouldn’t God have compassion over them?
One of our problems in our relationship with God and our relationships with others is our narrow perspective. It is difficult for us to see the bigger picture and recognize the sovereignty of God. Our selfishness and self-righteousness causes us to think the world revolves around us, that our perspective is always the correct one, and anything outside of that is wrong. To put it simply, in our minds we make ourselves God. We act as though we are omniscient and neglect to realize God really is omniscient. This is the same lie and trick our spiritual enemy has been using against us since the beginning of time. In Genesis 3 we go back to the conversation between Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Even though God made us in His image, the lure of being “like God” still draws us. We neglect to recognize, however, in His infinite goodness that He knows what is best for us. Our obedience is what cleanses us. Our following of Him is what brings us into a deeper relationship with Him. Yet we fight against it with everything we have. But if we read the news, go to school, talk with our parents, study under our pastors, or train under our coaches, we obey almost everything they say because we trust them. We trust fallible humans in what they say, who aren’t omniscient, but we disregard what God has to say. How ridiculous are we?
What’s more, is that as we can see in God’s interaction with Jonah, man has the audacity not only to disobey God but then tell Him He is running the universe wrong. Who are we that we would think that the Creator of all things doesn’t have a handle on things, that He is unjust, that He has no clue what He is doing, and that WE have a better plan?