Job and Jonah

My new semester of students started reading Jonah today – we finished the whole book in less than twenty minutes. It’s not that long, but it’s plenty exciting – especially because we read chapter four which recasts Jonah’s reluctant obedience as he doubles down on his desire for the destruction of the Ninevites. I think we all relate with Jonah quite a bit. He’s a bit of a drama king when the worm chews up the vine, and even when God calls him out on it, Jonah says his death is better than existing without that vine that had only been in his life for a day. He cared more about a plant than a city with 120,000 people plus other animals – and plants.

We all get a little myopic with our problems at times, and it’s worth stepping back to see how we can engage with helping others. Jonah only announces the bare minimum message to Nineveh, and the city completely turns around. God can use our bad attitude obedience, but it’s also a lot more rewarding to encourage others and actually care about them. Without love, we’re just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

As I went about my daily life this past week, I had plenty of time to ruminate about what makes my life hard after nine years in a wheelchair, but I chose to see the joy in encounters that I had instead. Yesterday I had a series of joyful encounters with people who have been praying for me for years and some who have just recently met me. One person in my church told me that she thought of me as she was reading through Job recently. She brought up how I once had someone tell me God was punishing me with a disability and Job’s friends similarly misrepresent God, but when God confronts the friends, he tells them to ask Job to pray for them. What a beautiful picture that would be if that person who misrepresented God in conversation to me came to apologise, and I could thank God for growth in their character, she suggested to me. What a beautiful picture, indeed!

I think about how Job and Jonah both saw massive beautiful transformations in others, and I certainly want to see that. What is perhaps more significant and relevant to me is the transformation Job has and Jonah lacks. I can’t change the hearts of others – though I can certainly pray for them. My actions and attitudes are within my control, though, and I’m celebrating transformation like Job to trust that God is in charge and repent after any days when I complain about what condition I’m left in for now. I want to be transparent about navigating that line between honesty in my frustrations but my absolute confidence in God’s character and power. My heart is still to see God glorified in the ongoing recovery process, and I trust that God is at work – Aslan is on the move.

Tomorrow a second class period will hear me shout out Jonah’s complaints, and I hope they also hear my heart as I live a different response to transformation than Jonah when God asks me about my bad behaviours.

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