“Jonah and His Gourd”
The story of Jonah is one of the best known in all the Old Testament. As one reads about this prophet he can feel himself growing upset or even angry with Jonah for his lack of concern for others and his total rebellion of God. Even when the story seems to be drawing to a nice, peaceful, rewarding conclusion, the story rips at our hearts as the prophet of God actually gets mad that the people of Nineveh repented of their sin and that God had then chosen to not destroy them.
The mercy of God is, needless to say, incredible. When Jonah pleaded with God about the misery he was experiencing as a result of the people's disobedience and made a shelter so that he could sulk, God (all on His own) decided to make provisions for His erring servant. The scripture records, "the Lord God prepared a gourd and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery" (Jonah 4:6). Just when you think you've seen all the mercy that God could muster, He amazes us with this kind of thoughtful action!
Perhaps when God created and provided this gourd for his servant He thought to Himself that the break from the hot sun would give Jonah some time to "self-reflect" and consider his ways. Perhaps after some time in the shade, this prophet would think a bit more clearly.
And with the increased clarity, Jonah might realize how selfish he had been and would have grown sorrowful over his attitude. As much as one might hope that to have occurred, that just wasn't the case. Even though Jonah was "grateful" for the plant which God had prepared for him, the scriptures don't provide us with any evidence that Jonah followed up his appreciation with a change of heart (Jonah 4:6).
It's probably of no surprise that God's prepared worm took away Jonah's gourd the next morning which soon left Jonah (yet again) wishing for his own death (Jonah 4:7-8). We'd do well to remember Jonah and his gourd. We appreciate the salvation which God has granted us but are sometimes reluctant to share it with others. We are hopeful for heaven but sometimes get jealous when others are doing well on that same path. We thank God for His mercy but don't take the necessary time to use the quiet moments He gives us to self-reflect and consider the needed changes in our lives. In all that we do in service to God, let us never emulate the poor attitude of Jonah but instead seek to always tell others about the great news of our God.