Sulking

Sulking is one reaction to not getting your own way, or feeling that what you’ve done has not been appreciated.

It seems to be the option Jonah took!

Jonah had had a rocky ride with God and what he had asked him to do.

God asked him to go to Nineveh to tell the people how wrong they were getting things.  Jonah didn’t want to do that, so he ran off in the opposite direction.  After a diversion via a boat trip, a storm, and a whale Jonah agreed to do what God asked him.

Jonah’s mission worked, and the people believed God’s message and stopped he wrong they were doing.

And then Jonah has what we would call where I from ‘a right strop’.

He turns on God and says,

‘I knew you’d do this’.

Jonah is clearly annoyed that God has changed his mind and decided not to punish the people of Nineveh at all.

Perhaps he thought God had been taken in, perhaps he thought God had given in too easily, or let them get away with it too lightly.  Perhaps he was just annoyed that people who had done so much wrong could be forgiven.

It may seem a strange reaction to seeing God’s love and forgiveness in the lives of others.  You’d think he would be pleased, especially after all the trouble he’d gone to.  May be he had been hoping he’d be able to tell God,

‘I told you so!’

To be proved right and now he can’t.  Is he perhaps jealous that others are having a part of God’s kingdom?  Did he want to see them punished for what they had done?  We’re not told why he got so angry.

How are we when God does something?

Do we like to be the ones to tell God what he should and shouldn’t be doing?  Who he should and shouldn’t be loving?  Who and what he can or can’t forgive?  Do we like to be calling the shots, rather than letting God.

Surely the fact that the Ninevites have changed their ways and discovered God’s forgiveness is a good thing?  Yet it makes Jonah so angry.

We aren’t told the end of the story, how Jonah finally responds, what he says to God, if he stops sulking – perhaps that is not the important part.  What really matters is that those who have lived their lives so wrong for so long hear what God has to say on the matter, and give all the wrong things up.  They discover for themselves God’s patience, kindness, love and forgiveness.

That patience, kindness, love and forgiveness is available to everyone, whatever they have done, however stroppy they’ve been, how far from God’s ways – God welcomes and forgives and takes us on with him.

Forgive me Lord

when I respond to what you are doing

by sulking

and being angry –

questioning your ways.

Thank you

that we I get things wrong

you still love me

and forgive me

as I turn to you.

Lord may I turn and not run,

rejoice and not sulk,

hear and know your forgiveness and life,

and share it with others

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