Jonah 4 is an interesting chapter in that it really doesn’t need to exist in order for the story to land well.
- Chapter 1, Jonah is called and runs away.
- Chapter 2, Jonah is swallowed by a great fish and has a major change of heart.
- Chapter 3, Jonah reaches to Nineveh and there is citywide repentance.
Every bit of writer in me says “That’s a wrap.” The end. It’s tidy. And of course, God reveals a little more of the story. The more is that Jonah has mixed emotions about Nineveh’s repentance. In fact, they’re even mixed. He’s angry. The reasons why are complex – and I’ll touch on them in the podcast later this week – but they’re also kind of peripheral to a question God asks him four verses in.
And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
Jonah 4:4 ESV
It’s a question I’m asking as well – not of Jonah, but of the only person I can answer for. Myself. Does it do me well to be angry?
I tend to answer the question with the reasons I am angry, and I can present those reasons in a logical way. But just because something is logical doesn’t mean it’s productive. The reasons why I’m angry seem almost inconsequential in light of God’s question. Does it do me well? Is it good for me? Is it satisfying? Does anything change?
Anger is impossible to avoid in life, although we all mitigate in in our own lives to some measure. It’s going to happen. We’re going to be angry. What we can’t do is allow ourselves to believe that our anger accomplishes anything. It’s an overflow of the heart, but it’s not a useful tool in moving forward.
Anger didn’t accomplish much for Jonah. I have had very little luck with it myself, as well. There is no great return on anger.
Read through Jonah 4. It’s an interesting passage. I’m hoping to drop the podcast episode Wednesday afternoon.