Summary: This is the 30th of 31 Devotions in a series called, 'The Church Called Jonah,' and is entitled, The Third Death Wish. It's about Jonah's wish to die because of the plant which God removed.
# 30 - The Third Death Wish
Jonah 4:8b-9 – “Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
The heat of the day was undoubtedly quite unbearable, but it’s sad to know that the only option Jonah could think of to deal with the situation he was in was that of a defeatist. He could have done other things like returning to Nineveh and taken shelter from the heat; he could have tried building another shelter or something more creative but instead, he wished he could end it all and die.
How often we’ve either heard of someone talk this way or more closer to home, have we thought this way? Instead of making every attempt to change the situation one is in, the only seemingly available solution is to end one’s life. We know that this is not the solution to the problem in any way. It might seem like the end of our problems, but we create new problems for those who are left behind – a child becomes parentless, a spouse becomes a widow or widower, compounded with other feelings of anger, guilt, and grief. And only the Lord knows what the end result of such a situation would be for us on the Day of Judgment.
This was not the first time Jonah had preferred death to life. The first time he preferred death was during the tempest at sea when the mariners discovered that he was the one responsible for the tempest and he decided that if he was thrown into the sea they would be relieved of the tempest – he had no idea that he would be rescued by a big fish. The second time he preferred death to life was when God had mercy on the people of Nineveh and didn’t send the punishment He had warned them about through Jonah. This time, Jonah prefers death to life because the protection that God had provided him from the heat was taken away by God and he was now exposed to the unbearable heat of the day. Isn’t it strange that Jonah was upset that God had removed the protection He offered Jonah while he sat and waited for the many thousands in Nineveh to die at God’s hands? What love for self and what a lack of love for others!
In all the cases where Jonah preferred death to life, Jonah could have done something he didn’t – he could have had a change of heart and God would surely have been merciful to him. How so like many of us who, when faced with difficult situations, especially ones that require a change from our side, would prefer to walk away from a relationship, from the situation, and sadly, sometimes, even walk away from life itself.
The question to us The Church is what is, “What if all the freedom the Lord gave us to share the gospel was taken away? What if all the comforts we enjoyed were taken away from us? What if the Lord confronted us on our rebellion and lack of concern for the world around us? Would we find ourselves trying to justify ourselves? Would we find ourselves blaming someone else? Would we blame Jesus Himself for giving us the Great Commission in the first place? Would we blame the world around us for not responding to the message? Would we try to flee from the reality we’re being confronted with? Or would we think that it’s better to end our lives rather than to repent and get back to our first love and calling on our lives? Depending on the way we respond, so will be the outcome.
Do we as The Church find ourselves grumbling about the things we might sometimes lose in life as we sail along waiting for Judgement Day when God’s wrath will fall on those who don’t accept Christ? Sadly, that’s the attitude of some in The Church who feel that we were saved and that’s all there was to it. We don’t need to be concerned about the lives of others who have not yet come into the fold. That would make us even more selfish than Jonah because we’ve had the privilege of knowing Jesus in a way that Jonah didn’t. We’ve seen the mystery of God unraveled through the coming of Christ, and in spite of it all, if we still find ourselves being self-absorbed and unconcerned for those around us, then there’s nothing more for us to really wait for except our own Judgement on the Day when Jesus returns and asks us to give an account for all that He entrusted to us so we might serve Him by finishing the task He began of making disciples of all nations.