He was angry after he did the right thing. How does that happen?
Jonah ran from God the first time. But God’s resolve was greater than Jonah’s stubborn nature. The assignment was still waiting, and God hadn’t changed His mind about who was to fulfill it.
So, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (3:1). This time Jonah followed the Lord’s command. He went to Nineveh and proclaimed His message to the people. According to verse 5, the people of Nineveh believed in the God as a result of Jonah’s preaching.
But in chapter 4, Jonah wasn’t excited, ecstatic, or enthusiastic because the people believed in God. He was angry! He did the right thing and the right thing rendered the right result, but he was angry. Jonah wanted the Assyrian people to be destroyed. He knew that if he preached God’s message of repentance to them, they would indeed repent and turn to God. The Assyrians were wicked and vile, but God is merciful and loving. He wanted to save the people alive.
Have you ever had what I like to call a ” Jonah Experience”? You did the right thing and the right thing rendered the right result, but you became angry sometime afterwards.
Recently, I had an experience for which God had well prepared me. He showed me what would be the basis of the dilemma and who would be involved; He showed me the favorable outcome ahead of time; and He told me what to say while in the midst of the dilemma. I did it. I did just what He said to do. The basis was just as He described. The outcome was indeed favorable. I did yield my will to His will and spoke only what He commanded.
All was well and then……….the next day, I was angry.
From early rising until about 12:30 p.m., I was nearly consumed with thoughts of how “they got away with it.” My flesh was riled. The enemy whispered repeatedly of how I let them get away with such an undermining when I should have let them know that I was fully aware of their malicious, insidious attack. Nearly seven hours of anger, and then God spoke.
Jonah left Nineveh and sat alone to sulk in his anger. The Lord caused a leafy plant to grow and provide shade for Jonah…..to deliver him from the burning heat. Jonah took comfort until God appointed a worm to cause the plant to wither and die. When the plant withered, Jonah wanted to die. God said to him, “‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left?'” (4:10-11). God had compassion for those who didn’t know better, but Jonah did not.
In my case, the inevitable was forthcoming. In my prayer closet, God set me straight! God showed me that my anger was anything but righteous. He showed me that I cared more about exposing their faults than covering with love. That I cared more about letting them know that I was wise to their ill-intent than I cared about letting God be glorified, even in conflict. That I cared more about what precipitated the event than I cared about its happy ending.
In my prayer closet, confession and repentance took place. The enemy was dismissed. My flesh was made to submit. The anger was released. Fellowship with the Father was restored.
When we do what God has said and just as He has said, we have no justifiable cause to regret the decision. “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart”(1 John 3:20). I knew the anger was wrong, for my heart started to condemn me. If my heart could condemn me, then God’s conviction is certainly greater. We are called to the right things. In His Word and in prayer, we learn what are the right things. And when we do what is right, we can have confidence before Holy God (v. 21).