Recently, I was reading the book of Job. When I got to the last chapter, which I had read several times before, something new struck me. I just love when that happens! As I was reading the end of Job’s journey, I was reminded of Jonah. I know, I know…..You’re wondering how in the world I could think about Jonah while studying about Job, but I couldn’t help but compare the end of their stories.
In reading the book of Jonah (a story familiar to most of us), you’ll find that God had called Jonah to travel to Nineveh- a nation full of wickedness- and preach repentance. After a bout of disobedience and unusual consequences to his disobedience (he was swallowed by a large fish!), Jonah reluctantly did as God required. He headed to Nineveh and preached the word that God had sent him to deliver. The results were amazing! The people repented and turned to God! However, that isn’t the end of the story. Instead of rejoicing over an entire nation turning to God, Jonah was displeased at the mercy God showed the to the people of Nineveh, a people he had no personal connection to. He sat down, sulking and pouting, and had to learn one more lesson from the Lord. (Jonah 4:1-11)
In the fleshly sense, if anyone had the right to be angry about God’s mercy toward others, it was certainly not Jonah. It was Job. Chapter after chapter he endured accusations of wickedness and rebuke from his three closest “friends.” In a time when they should’ve been comforting their friend, they questioned his word and integrity. Job definitely could’ve taken things personally. In the end, God talked to these so-called friends of Job and called them out on their wrong judgments. He then gave them direction on how to get redemption. God also instructed Job to pray for them in order for their redemption to come.
How many times have we stopped to pray for those who have hurt us, accused us, wronged us, etc? Job could’ve turned his back on those friends in a heartbeat, but instead, he did exactly what God instructed him to do…he prayed for his friends. When this occurred, all of Job’s losses were restored and he got double for his trouble! (Job 42:7-10)
Jonah’s negative attitude caused him to sit angry and miserable, begging for death. Job, on the other hand, found blessings in praying for those who caused him hurt. We as Christians are called to respond just as Job…Luke 6:28 says, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes people can be mean and hateful. But guess what… There is power in our response, and there is power in our prayer. We can either walk in tremendous blessing as Job did, or we can be miserable like Jonah. A happy and joyous life depends on our response!