Jonah 4:1-4, 11
“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee 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, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?…Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…should I not be concerned about that great city?’”
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Heavenly Father, your love for the lost burns with a heat more intense than your anger.
To jealously preserve our self-righteousness, we lash out at your compassion. Yet this greater insult inspires your better grace.
Teach us the discipline of mercy. Nudge us in our sullen isolation until we join the celebration joyfully welcoming our sisters and brothers home.
This we pray for the sake of Christ, who bore your righteous anger for our unmerciful hearts.
Listen to ‘Thy Mercy My God’ featuring Sandra McCracken