You’ve most likely heard of Jonah—you know, the guy who spent three days in the belly of a big fish before being vomited out onto land. But do you remember how he found himself in such a predicament in the first place?
It all began with God’s orders to Jonah to travel to the great city of Ninevah and warn the people of His coming judgment.
Jonah wasn’t excited. In fact, he took off in the opposite direction.
If you’d sat down to dinner with Jonah and asked him to tell you about the city of Ninevah, he’d have had nothing good to say about this wicked, pagan city.
“So,” you ask, “Why wouldn’t Jonah have been overjoyed to proclaim God’s impending judgment to Nineveh?”
Because he knew his compassionate God well:
That is why I was so quick to flee … I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (Jonah 4:2)
Where is God calling you? Maybe the people you’re called to are nothing like you. Maybe they disturb your peace by playing their music a few decibels too high and a few hours too long. Maybe they’re antagonistic toward your faith. Maybe they have a different skin color. Political party. Income level. Maybe they just let their grass grow too long.
Would the word “compassion” or “contempt” better describe your feelings toward these people?
If you’re like me—in need of a serious dose of compassion—would you join me in asking for more of it from the One who, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36)?