Jonah 4:5-6 (New International Version)
Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
There’s a similar passage in the story of the prophet Elijah, who lived about a century before Jonah: “Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died'” (1 Kings 19:4).
But here’s the big difference in the stories: Elijah was despondent because he was being physically threatened by the corrupt leaders of the land, whereas Jonah is miserable because the leaders have repented. One prophet wanted desperately for God’s will to be done, but the other is deeply annoyed that it has been done.
Yet, even in the midst of Jonah’s continuing rebellion, God reaches out in compassion, quickly growing a large plant to provide shade from the blistering sun.
Such an interesting little phrase: “Jonah was very grateful for the plant.” While Jonah is grateful for the shade the plant provides, there is no word of gratitude to the God who gave him the plant. He is too stuck in his anger.
How often do you consciously stop to consider the ways God has provided for you each day?