Scripture Reading: Jonah 4:1-11
The Book of Jonah is an outlier among the twelve prophets. It does not take place in Israel. The text gives no indication of its date. It does not contain prophetic oracles, and the focus is not on the people to whom the prophet is sent, but on his own personal experience. Nonetheless, it shares the perspective of the other prophets that God is active in the world.
If we recognize that our own work in God’s service is hobbled by disobedience, resentment, laxity, fear, selfishness or other ailments, Jonah’s experience may be an encouragement to us. Here we have a prophet who may be even more of a failure at faithful service than we are. Yet God accomplishes the fullness of his mission through Jonah’s halting, flawed, intermittent service. By God’s power, our poor service may accomplish everything that God intends.
In light of Jonah’s experience, we might fear that God’s calling will lead us into calamity and hardship. Wouldn’t it be easier to hope God doesn’t call us at all? It is true that responding to God’s call may require great sacrifice and hardship. Yet in Jonah’s case, the hardship arises not from God’s call, but from Jonah’s disobedience to it.
The truth is that God is always working to care for and comfort Jonah. God moves people to compassion for him. Given the extraordinary measures God takes to provide for Jonah when he rejects God’s call, imagine what blessings Jonah might have experienced if he had accepted the call from the beginning. The means to travel, friends ready to risk their lives for him, harmony with the world of nature, shade and shelter, the esteem of people among whom he works, and astounding success in his work—imagine how great a blessing these might have been if Jonah had accepted them as God intended.
Prayer: Jesus, help me accept your grace and respond to your call in my day to day life and work. Amen.
For Further Exploration: Read Jonah and God’s Blessing for All Nations from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.
Author: Theology of Work Project
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