“Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head and to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.” Jonah 4:6-7
It is in our human nature to become angry when people don’t get their just rewards, especially when those who do wrong are not punished. Jonah experienced this anger when God showed compassion to the city of Nineveh after it repented from its evil ways (Jonah 3). To show his anger and disappointment, Jonah built a shelter east of the city and waited to see what would happen to it. As he waited, God grew a vine to cover Jonah and provide him comfort from the sun. At dawn the next day, however, God caused that vine to wither. He then provided a scorching east wind and blazing sun on Jonah’s head.
What lessons can be learned from this? One, it shows God’s abounding love for us. Although Nineveh sinned, he showed the city compassion and did not destroy it because the citizens sincerely repented. He will extend that same love and compassion to all who humbly and sincerely come to him in repentance.
Two, we should rejoice when someone turns away from sinful behavior and earnestly turns to God. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that guy or that woman is sincere. Don’t be so narrow-minded to feel someone doesn’t deserve God’s forgiveness because of his or her past. The truth is, none of us deserve to be forgiven.
Which leads to the third lesson. God could have severely punished Jonah for his defiant anger, instead he taught him a gentle lesson. Jonah did not plant or tend the vine that brought him comfort, yet he enjoyed it. When the vine was taken away, he suffered under conditions so harsh he wanted to die (v. 8). He enjoyed the comfort of the covering, but bristled when that covering was taken away. Jonah didn’t deserve God’s compassion with the vine, just as he was so certain Nineveh did not deserve God’s compassion after repenting. God’s grace is for all who seek Him, not just a select a few.
Don’t harbor resentment toward those who receive the Lord’s blessings, whether you think they deserve it or not. That decision is not ours to make because our views tend to be quite narrow. We certainly do not have the ability to fully examine one’s heart. But God can and does and He forgives those who repent. For that, we should be so grateful.
May the Lord be with you in your travels today.