Have you ever had a friend who refused to be grateful? Someone who constantly complains, feels they never get what they need from God and has a "woe is me," martyr-like view on life? Maybe you've been that person. Maybe you are that person right now.
Too often it is that very approach to life that brings about the betrayal, humiliation, and loneliness that is so feared. When we believe the world is out to get us, we often seek to control our lives and our circumstances, hardening our hearts and getting angry with God. I've been thinking about the book of Jonah today and how the dialogue between God and Jonah is some of the most self-absorded conversations in the Bible.
In chapter four Jonah is angry with God for making him preach to the people of Nineveh, whom he despised. God provided a gourd for some shade for Jonah in the desert. But at dawn the next day, as Jonah still sat under the shade, a worm ate through the gourd. The sun blazed and the wind scorched Jonah's head and once again...he got pissed. "I'm so angry I wish I were dead," Jonah declared.
But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this gourd, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Ninevah, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left?"
We all rage against God at times. But we always have the choice to give up and harden our hearts, or surrender and accept His gifts of humility and gratitude. Perhaps if Jonah had chosen humility he would've been more grateful for the gourd and cared for it. He might have also seen the bigger picture and realized that people are more important than his dumb gourd!
There will be times when we each rail against the things the Lord puts us through and the worms He sends to eat through our illusions of comfort and control. But the wise know that when we cultivate a heart of grace and gratitude, only then will we find the rest we truly desire. This story is a simple reminder to me to be grateful for today and cultivate my spirit for tomorrow.