by Kevin Burton
With the luxury of thousands of years and thousands of miles of separation from the scene, we all come up with the right answer to this question. But hang on just a second.
Do yourself a favor, apply the question to yourself, right here in 2021 and see how you come out.
Our series is called 10 Question from the Bible, this is the eighth installment. The easy target of this post is Jonah, Mr. whale food himself. The question from God: “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4 NKJV).
Jonah was a prophet of God who got an assignment he really disliked. He was told to go to Nineveh, to Israel’s sworn enemies and prophesy against them.
As a prophet, Jonah knew God to be “a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm,” (v. 2).
He just knows that the Ninevites will repent and God will forgive them. He doesn’t want that. He wants them punished for the brutal way they have treated Israel.
So Jonah got angry and refused the assignment. At least he tried to.
The story is familiar. Jonah heads in the opposite direction of Nineveh and God’s will. God uses a storm, some sailors and a fish to give Johan a chance to reconsider.
After three days in the fish Jonah repents, and God orders the fish to vomit him onto dry land. Jonah came out stinking and stinking mad! After all that, Nineveh does repent, God does forgive them, and so Jonah is beside himself.
“It might seem like a strange reaction. What preacher is annoyed when the audience does actually repent and come back to God?” asks I. Gordon on aaa.jesusplusnothing.com.
“But Jonah actually wanted these people destroyed for they were a wicked and ruthless nation who acted as a great threat and enemy to Israel. So Jonah is angry. A boiling hot type of anger…furious.”
“And then the question comes from the Lord, ‘Have you any right to be angry,’”” Gordon writes. “In the deeper meaning this is a question for us all when we are angry at what God does or seemingly doesn’t do.”
“The fact is we only see things on the one level. God sees all things,” Gordon writes, adding that being angry with God puts us in a position of saying we know more than He does.
Your circumstances are not like Jonah’s. But what happens in your life when God wants one thing and you want something different, when you have pleaded for God to intervene in a health crisis, or with a wayward child, and he has not answered?
Have we not all been there?
“Do you ever find yourself fighting God, your desires pulling you one way God’s desires pulling you another?” reads the website of Insight For Living, the radio ministry of Pastor Chuck Swindoll. “Jonah prophesied to Nineveh but he wasn’t happy about it. Herein we find another touchstone for our lives: aligning our desires with God’s is always a process.”
“Just because we go through the motions of following God’s will does not mean our hearts are aligned with His. God wanted Jonah’s actions and his heart. He wants ours as well.”
Micca Campbell, on Proverbs 31 Ministries, tells the story of the intense anger she felt upon becoming a widow at age 21.
“It’s important to express our upset emotions to the Lord. But we have to view our circumstances through the lens of God’s grace,” Campbell writes. “Look at Psalm 30:2 ‘O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me’” (NKJV).
“Rather than ignoring our pain or not sharing our anger with God (which is silly because He already knows), we should confess our anger and seek His healing.”
“When I was completely honest with God, what happened next took me by surprise: God showed up!” Campbell writes.
“Just as a mother runs to her screaming child, God the father ran to me, His child.”
“I didn’t see Him with my eyes or touch Him with my hands, but I knew He was with me. It comforted me. This encounter with God became a turning point in my healing. I realized God understood my frailties and feelings and He was big enough to handle them.”
“If you’re angry with God, tell Him. Lay your heart open before God. Acknowledge that even while you don’t understand what’s happened, you trust He can make everything work out.”