Jonah spends the majority of his eponymous book complaining and running away from responsibility. When he finally does do what God asked him to do, an entire city repents and begins fervently worshiping God. Neither Jonah nor God are surprised by this outcome, in fact, Jonah ran away because he was worried it was going to happen!
Our devotional today from Today in the Word reminds us that God will use us to do His will, even if it means working with our half-hearted attempts at obedience:
As reported in Leadership Journal, a recent survey found that religious faith in America is decreasing. The number of those identifying themselves as “Christian” has gone down by 11 percent since 1990. The answer “None” (15%) was the only category to grow in all 50 states, and it was the fastest-growing category across the board. The “Don’t know/confused” category also grew significantly. One of the survey’s co-authors commented that people are more or less making up their own religious identities and tend to view religion mainly as a form of self-expression.
The results of this survey suggest that had it been Americans instead of Ninevites hearing the message of Jonah, we might not have responded as they did. Despite the prophet’s halfhearted, short-and-not-very-sweet sermon, the people of Nineveh began repenting as soon as they heard it! Though from a human perspective their response was completely unexpected, as explained in yesterday’s devotion, it was no surprise to God. Clearly He had been preparing the hearts of these pagans to heed His message and receive His mercy. The credit certainly shouldn’t go to Jonah—he made about as feeble an effort as one can imagine. Rather, God had set the stage and the time was ripe. When Jonah finally obeyed, events unfolded exactly as God intended. Jonah himself had sensed God’s purposes and been (sinfully) afraid this would happen (4:2).
Is there anything God has been asking you to do that you’ve been resisting? How has God provided for you when you do obey him?