Reading the story of Jonah, I am struck again by God’s patience. God persists with Jonah through his running, his time in the fish, and even while Jonah sits and waits for the destruction of the city. God could force Jonah’s obedience, but he patiently works with him through his bad attitude and blatant defiance.
God did not just leave Jonah to drown in the sea, but he mercifully sent a great fish to rescue Jonah. He did not send a cruise ship to rescue Jonah, but rather a smelly fish where Jonah could contemplate what he was doing. God clearly knew what he was doing because Jonah seems to have gotten the point, at least for the moment. Jonah’s words from the fish are the first real sense of repentance we see in him.
I am grateful for a God who chases a defiant Jonah and reasons with him about his anger. God could have chosen to strike him dead in his tracks. God could have moved on to work with someone with better listening skills. I am grateful for a God who pursues us. He doesn’t give up, but keeps working with us to mold us and grow us into the people he would have us become.
It reminds me of the New Testament story of the prodigal son. The father does not want the younger son to leave; but he is patient with him and gives him what he asks for though it must have been very painful to him. He allows the son to experience the consequences of his behavior, but he does not leave him there. He waits patiently for his son's repentance and eagerly welcomes him back into his arms.
God is so patient with us too. Our God loves us and he desires for us to come to repentance. He restores us into a right relationship with him. He allows us to choose our own path and to live with the consequences; yet he desires more for us. Are you ready to stop fighting to have things your own way and allow God to choose the path? Your patient God waits eagerly for your repentance and return to him!
Lord thank you for your patience with Jonah and with us. Help us to be patient with those around us and to demonstrate your grace each day. In Jesus name, Amen.