Pain. No easy wisdom for that one. The debates rage. Answers locked behind a sin barrier that gets thicker by the minute.
Jonah certainly didn’t have the answer. Nineveh had caused his people so much pain, and he didn’t see the point of easing their pain with a warning. They deserved to be destroyed. One whale and three days later, he shook his head dry, took a deep breath and mumbling under his breath, he accomplished his appointed warning to Nineveh.
What most of us forget is Jonah’s last chapter. Pain riddled, his brain picked at those little things that set the anger up another notch. He plopped himself down to watch this hated city – hoping for distruction but knowing His Lord was merciful. He didn’t like that God’s grace would extend to such a people. They weren’t the chosen. They weren’t like him. So God appointed a plant, a worm, a wind to challenge Jonah to think again.
“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 I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left…?” Jonah 4:10-11
Jonah’s story ends there, and we are left to wonder. Wonder at Jonah’s painful struggle with obedience to his Lord over the world’s wisdom? Ponder his struggle – our struggles. We will never know until we get on the other side of this life, but Jonah’s story certainly provides some guidance for us in these painful times.
“Should I not pity…?” show grace? show love?
1942 Daily Ration: “Read: 11 Corinthians 12:7-10
“There was given to me a thorn in the flesh,…For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’~11 Cor 12:7-9
“Brave witnesses for Christ and noble examples to the rest of us are those who glorify God through their pain. To those who offer their suffering as an act of worship we dedicate these lines found on a hospital wall: ‘Lord Take Away Pain’
The cry of man’s anguish went up to God,
‘Lord, take away pain!’
The shadow that darkens the world you have made,
The close-coiling chain
That strangles the heart, the burden that weighs
On the wings that would soar.
‘Lord take away pain from the world you have made
That it may love you more!’
Then answered the Lord to the cry of his world:
Shall I take away pain,
And with it the power of the soul to endure,
Made strong by strain?
Shall I take away pity that knits heart to heart,
And sacrifice high?
Will you lose all your heroes that lift from the fire
White brows to the sky?
Shall I take away love that redeems with a price,
And smiles at the loss?
Can you spare from your lives that would climb into mine
The Christ on the Cross?