Jonah and the Patience of God

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I have this plant at my desk…a succulent they call them? It was gifted to me by a plant loving and plant watering friend who knows I can’t keep a plant alive even if Bill Nye the Science Guy tried to help me.

“You only have to water it…like…every few weeks or so…” as she handed it over. I didn’t know whether this gift was to meet me where I was (plant challenged) or to encourage me not to stay there (plant challenged).

But my inability to keep a plant alive and my friend’s gift to me knowing my weakness reminded me…

God entrusts me with things knowing my weakness.

Do you know what this requires of Him?

Patience. Incredible patience.

God entrusted a man named Jonah with an assignment knowing He would run, hide and then argue.

What amazes me about this well known story is Jonah’s response to God’s mind blowing patience.

“That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah 4:2

Wait, what?

God’s infinite patience and steadfast love made him angry?

Have you been there?

I have.

What I see in Jonah is an immaturity to accept God’s patience towards others and toward himself; an anger that life hasn’t gone his way.

I confess that most often when I think of God’s patience, I imagine it in the context of others receiving and experiencing the patience of God. But I hardly ever imagine myself as the recipient.

Pretty arrogant of me, huh?

Now, it’s harder to point the finger at my man Jonah.

When I stop to remember that I am the repeated offender of God’s goodness and still the blessed recipient of His patience, my perspective shifts.

I imagine pulling up a chair with Jonah and sharing, “This isn’t how I thought my life would look either. I didn’t anticipate God using me in this way, and to be honest, I’d rather be doing my own thing than being the messenger of God’s saving grace. But Jonah, we’re acting really self-centered and immature…look at the city that God just spared because they repented. Can we not repent too? Can we not receive God’s grace? Even in His infinite patience He’s still in the conversation with us; He hasn’t given up us. Receive God’s steadfast love. Don’t fight Him.”

How have you experienced God’s patience lately? How have you responded?

 

 

By Rebecca Anne Jordan

Photo on 2010-07-10 at 17.10 #4

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