"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."
I would venture to say that Jonah is one of the most disliked bible characters of all time. The irony is that the reason so many of us dislike Jonah- is because he reminds us too much of ourselves. He is a reflection of the deepest and darkest parts of who we are. It’s easier to project our sinful state onto Jonah rather than to allow God’s spirit to bring conviction and transformation into our own lives.
But with all the negative publicity this story receives, buried deep within the lines of this narrative comes a profound part of Jonah’s faith that is quickly skimmed over and disregarded: His confidence in God. His steadfast belief in the grace and compassion of a loving Savior. In fact, when it comes to matters of faith- Jonah puts me to shame.
His faith in the power of God’s love and grace was not just a matter of wishful thinking and hoping- it was more than that. To him, it was factual. There was no questioning it. To him, God’s grace was as certain as the rising and setting of the sun- it would not fail. He knew that no matter what the Ninevites had done- God’s mercy was greater than their sins. It wasn’t a matter of if God would forgive but a matter of when they would receive it. He knew that despite how far they had run from God- His love would surely prevail. He knew that the moment the Ninevites heard God’s word spoken into their lives- they would instantly be changed. To put it simply, Jonah knew his God, and he knew Him well. He knew His God, and the power that exuded from Him. He knew his God, in the fullness of His majesty. Gracious. Compassionate. Slow to anger. Abounding in love.
For all the things you and I may despise in the humanity of Jonah- this one thing is for sure- I yearn for that kind of confidence. I want to know my God in a way that sees the outcome of His grace and mercy as factual rather than probable. I want to have a faith that stands firm in His power and rests secure in His compassion. I want to have a knowledge of His love that’s as sure as the sun’s rising and as certain as the coming of the dawn. I want to have a confidence that knows without a shadow of a doubt that my God’s love can conquer all. No matter who, no matter how, no matter what.
Truth be told, our lives would be drastically different if we knew our God that way, wouldn’t they? If only we carried that confidence into our own “Nineveh”, how many lives would be changed? How many people would be instantly transformed by God’s power? How many broken souls mended by His healing grace? How many shame filled lives crowned with glory and forgiven by His compassion and mercy? How many addictive chains broken by His abounding and relentless love? If only we really believed in that kind of power in our lives.
Lord, I’m challenged by the confidence of Jonah, a confidence of a man that knew his God. Usher me into your presence today, reminding me of your relentless love and mercy. Overwhelm me with but a glimpse of your unfailing power, so that I too can bring your healing grace into the places to which you have called me. Give me a faith that stands firm in your ability to change lives. Help me to believe it, and then help me to live it today.