Last week I led a short Bible study for a women's group using the book of Jonah for a discussion on prayer. Quite a few people, the sailors and the people of Ninevh, end up praying to God and commit to changing their behavior in response to God's mercy and love.
The only person who does not do this is Jonah. He prays and talks to God, but he is too stubborn to really see and accept God's grace for himself.
At the end of the story (4:2) we find out that Jonah fled from the task God gave him because he was afraid that Nineveh would repent and that God would forgive them and spare them. He fails to see that God continued to pursue him because God also wanted to forgive Jonah.
The story could have ended in the first chapter when Jonah was thrown overboard. The disobedient prophet should have drowned. End of story. The sailors now prayed and made vows to Jonah's God, so even his disobedience brought a few people to faith.
But, God was not finished with Jonah. A fish swallowed Jonah, which saved his life. After 3 days and 3 nights in the fish, Jonah prayed to God. He was so stubborn that he avoided talking to God for 3 entire days, while in the belly of a fish! He did not talk to God before then because he did not want to hear what God had to say.
In response to Jonah's prayer, God had the fish spit him out on the beach. Jonah went to Nineveh. He told them about God's judgment. The people repented. God forgave them. Jonah got mad.
He did not want God to forgive them. He sat on a hill to watch the city, hoping that they would do something to make God destroy them. God did not leave him to sulk. God continued to reach out to Jonah.
The story does not really end. The Stubborn Prophet continues to wait and talk to God. God continues to talk to Jonah. God does not give up on Jonah. God is on the hill with him as the story ends.
Have you ever been this stubborn? Without God's mercy and love for Jonah--it would have been a very short book. Jonah argued; Jonah disobeyed; Jonah begrudgingly did what God asked him to do; Jonah got mad when God forgave.
Yet, when the story ends, God still cares for Jonah. God is still reaching out to him with love.
Even when we may not want to pray because we do not want to hear what God has to say to us--God will continue to reach out to us. Remember Jonah. Remember God's love for you. Pray and talk to God today.
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