Plants, People, and Our Present Pandemic

Jonah was a worshiper of the one true God. He may not have known the distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but he was a follower of Yahweh. He was like many of us reading this devotional.

Jonah was a minister of the one true God. He was one who received special information from heaven and was charged with communicating it to his neighbors. He was a prophet, preacher, and evangelist. He was like us.

Jonah, though being a saint, was a great sinner. His ancient and inspired biography did not hide his spiritual flaws. He thought himself better than the pagans about him. He hated the Ninevites. He devalued his Lord’s command and flagrantly disobeyed. And later, when he did go through the motions and preach to God’s foreign friends, he proved his heart was not in it.

In Jonah 4:5-11, we read the following:

Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Jonah proved to love himself more than anyone else. He was first and foremost in his own eyes and affection. He became miserable, sulking, and angry when his plant and comfort were removed. He pitied the plant for which he did not labor, did not make it grow, and which was only temporary, and he had no pity for the 120,000 people with eternal souls.

Christian friends — we who are worshiping, ministering saints — what are we learning about ourselves in the midst of our present pandemic?

Are we too interested in our gracious and temporary comforts which have been or might be taken from us?

Are we too disinterested in what our mysterious God might be doing behind the scenes?

Are we too disinterested in the billions of people about us with eternal souls?

What exactly is it that I making us miserable today?

Dear Lord,

I am reminded of your compassion for the lost. Your pity for the pious and pagan is unfathomable. You are the God of love, mercy, and grace. I praise you for this. I thank you for such undeserved blessings.

However, when I compare myself in the light of your holiness, I am freshly reminded of my fallen condition. I have not the love for those created in your image that I ought. I do not love others as you desire. I am not like my Savior — Jesus Christ — who was willing to serve, sacrifice, and suffer for the salvation of his enemies. Instead, I am self-centered. I cry and moan when you mess with my plants and comfort. I do not seem to be broken up about my neighbors. I have not your compassion and mission deep in my heart. I am a sinful, sinful, saint.

Thank you Lord for the mercy and grace shown to Jonah. You taught him well in the sea and on the edge of the city. Your love never fails.

photo-1492681591534-d1f062f4c5c3Thank you Lord for the mercy and grace shown to Nineveh. You worked a great revival in their heart and city. Great is your unfathomable grace.

Thank you Lord for the mercy and grace shown to me this morning. Help me to get my eyes off myself. Help me to pant after you and what you desire. Help me to long and lust for more friends coming to know the joy of Jesus.

Today, help me to enjoy you as I engage my neighborhood and world with Gospel grace. Maybe I will write a card, type and email, share a post, tweet a quote, or text a thought, or make a call. Perhaps I will bake some cookies, take a walk, knock on a door, and check on a neighbor. Who knows what I will do? Who knows what you will do? But let’s do something together.

Use me Lord! I am your vessel. I am your instrument. I am your sinful saint. I am your friend, worshiper, and minister.

With great love,

Your pitiful and precious modern-day Jonah


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