#753. TAKE AWAY MY LIFE! (17/2/23)
‘When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 3:10-4:3)
Summary: We are all susceptible to spiritual depression.
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Jonah is filled with disappointment and even wishes for death when God chooses not to destroy Nineveh. Added to this, it's important to note that Jonah must have been physically and emotionally drained, having just survived a raging storm and being swallowed by a large fish! Many of us can relate to Jonah's feelings of despair and frustration, especially when we see wickedness seemingly go unpunished. Psalm 73 also touches on this subject, as the prosperity of the wicked can be confusing in the face of God's goodness and justice:
‘Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills…Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.’ (Psalm 73:1-5, 13)
God did not act toward this ‘wicked city’ as Jonah believed He should have. When God fails to act as we think He should, we can fall into discouragement, cynicism and even despair. for example, we can’t have a child, we don’t get the sort of work we desire, we are struggling financially, our health is not good, our children are struggling, the world seems free to speak against what we believe whilst we feel the pressure to conform to what the ungodly believe… life can feel unfair, particularly if we feel that God owes us good things because He loves us and we’ve, maybe, made sacrifices in serving Him.
Elijah had a similar period of spiritual depression. He had just had an amazing, miraculous victory. He had seen fire fall from heaven and had defeated the prophets of Baal. He should be on top of the world. Instead, Elijah was in despair. We read:
‘Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.’ (1 Kings 19:3-5)
RESPONSE - SEEK OR GIVE SUPPORT
Today, let’s recognise that spiritual depression exists. Recognise our own susceptibility. Look out for the people that the Father wants you to help at this time.
For most of us, the despair we are feeling passes. We know it’s a hard season and we draw close to God and find peace. However, if we feel that we cannot cope, feel overwhelmed or even that life is not worth living it’s important to talk to a trusted Christian friend or leader about this.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP
ANGER AT GOD’S GOODNESS
Please read Jonah 3:10-4:4
MAIN IDEA: GOD’S GOODNESS TO OTHERS CAN CAUSE US TO BECOME BITTER
JONAH WAS ANGRY
We see this strange response from Jonah; he is angry when God has mercy upon Nineveh! Jonah is angry that they have responded to his preaching and that God had relented from judging them because of their belief and repentance.
WHY IS JONAH ANGRY?
Jonah is angry because he doesn’t believe that the Ninevites deserve God’s mercy. He’s angry with God because he believes that God should judge this wicked city. He’s angry because he may feel embarrassed that his word of judgment has not now come true. He’s angry because he’s a part of God’s chosen people and - wrongly - come to believe that others (gentiles) don’t warrant God’s mercy, he’s become racist!
WE CAN BECOME ANGRY
Jonah is in all of us. When God does or doesn’t do things as we believe He should, we can become angry with Him. Jonah is like the older brother in the parable of The Prodigal Son who is angry that his father celebrated the return of his sinful brother; likewise, we can become angry and judgemental when wicked people receive complete justification in Christ. We can become proud and disdainful if we are not careful to remember that, like Jonah, we have also run away from God in many ways!
LEARN TO APPLY GOD’S GRACE
We learn from Jonah that understanding Godʼs grace—and being changed by
it—always requires a long journey with successive stages. It cannot happen
in a single cathartic or catastrophic experience (like being swallowed by a
fish!). If we really want to reach others with the good news of Jesus, then we need to love those we want to reach. And to do that we really need to examine where our
true heart lies every day!
Why was Jonah angry?
When are you tempted to get angry with God and how do you deal with this?
How do you seek to remember the gospel each day so as to remain merciful and humble?
How have you Served, Invested and Invited in your communities this week? (Let’s share about this again next week)
How have you got on with making a list and praying for your non-believing friends each day? (Let’s share about this again next week)
Let’s now pray for specific people that God has put on your heart and in your life.
Let’s pray for each other that the Spirit would fill us with His resurrection power so as to be compassionate and courageous this week.
Let’s pray for Funky Monkeys this week.