I love directions. They make things so simple…or at least they should. A tried and trusted step-by-step direction manual that will eliminate mistakes, save time, increase joy and efficiency, and really help impatient people like myself. Whether it’s a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, or an instructional manual for a piece of furniture, or a turn-by-turn guide to get to a specific location, I bask in the security that directions provide. Except when they don’t.
I can struggle with resilience, patience, and perspective when things don’t go as they should when it comes to directions. When a screw is missing, or a road number is wrong, or if this part doesn’t fit into that part, I can grow quite impatient and be tempted to give up. Now, that is not to say I am not resilient in or for other things, but when something simple is not so simple, my impatience can rise up and make me frustrated. Can you relate?
This week, we will be continuing our series in the Minor Prophets and we come to a book that showcases a lot of patience. And the patience is coming from one source: God. For many of you, you are familiar with the story of Jonah: they disobedience prophet who ran from God’s call, was swallowed by a fish, finally decided to obey God, and preached repentance to the city of Nineveh. And while those are some of the essentials of the story, it is amazing to see the movement of God’s patience throughout this account.
First off, God is patient with the people of Nineveh. They have rebelled against Him and disobeyed Him repeatedly for generations and yet He did not give up on them. He still wanted them to repent and turn to Him. He cared about them enough to send Jonah to warn them of the end result of their sin. He put up with them even amidst their atrocities when He so easily could have just wiped them off the face of the Earth or said, “Sorry, you had your chance.”
God is also patient with Jonah. Even in his anger, disobedience, rebellion, and poor attitude, God still cares about Jonah. He saves him from drowning by sending a fish, He rescues him from the hot sun by providing a plant for shade, and He doesn’t quite on Jonah even though Jonah had all but quit on Him. Who else would do that?! How many of us would have just said, “Well, have it your way, Jonah. I’m going to go choose someone else.” Or, “Ok, Jonah. You want to play hardball. Let me just take out my frustration on you to teach you a lesson on how you should respond next time.”
But that is not what we see. Rather, we see God’s immense patience, resilience, and grace shown to sinful people and sinful prophets. And that Good News travels down the line to us today. I am so thankful that God does not give up on me when I disobey Him. I am so glad that He is patient with me in my impatience. I am so humbled that He continuously puts up with me and my messiness. Can you relate?
We all share in being blown away time and again by God’s patience to us and His call to extend and share that patience with those around us. May we be reminded of how God’s patience shows up in our lives and may that give us reassurance and thankfulness for His grace to us. It is in the power of that grace that the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Pastor Ben Bigaouette