So far we have seen how much Jonah has struggled with trying to figure out the equations which God applies to his creation—the equation of his forgiveness and the equation of God’s value in his creation, and as the book of Jonah comes to an end, the conclusion brings to the forefront
Compassion Equation (9-11) 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”Sometimes just like Jonah, it is easy to look at the things that we don’t like around us as a hurdle to overcome, when God sees people and problems as a platform for his loving kindness and compassion. God is more just—calling us to a higher level of holiness than we could ever imagine and yet simultaneously, he is more merciful than we can ever grasp. There is a biblical saying from Judges, “that people did what was right in their own eyes.” Yet, we see from the eyes and words of God a standard and equation that is beyond ours.Maybe one of the most powerful accounts of a compassion equation falling in line with Christ’s level of compassion occurred in the early days of January1956. Nate Saint and his missionary companions made friendly connection with the Waodani, a tribe in the jungles of Ecuador. After the friendly meeting, the missionaries pushed forward with plans to spread the Gospel to the entire tribe. On January 8th, 1956 Nate and four other missionaries were confronted on their runway by warriors of the Waodani tribe, holding spears and dressed for battle. “In one of the memorable, father and son moments, little Steve, Nate’s son begged his father to kill the natives if his life was ever in danger. His father answers, smiling, “I can’t kill the Waodani, son. They’re not ready for heaven… But we are.” If the story ended there it would be compelling, and yet it continued for generations forward—Steve now an orphan and Nate’s sister Rachel went back to the Waodani people convincing them that murder wasn’t the only way to find strength. They revealed a strength of forgiveness, unconditional love, and compassion which eclipses the conditionality all around us!
What gets you angry? Think back to the last time you lost your temper—did someone cut you off in traffic, cheat you out of something you felt was yours, or can you even remember why you were mad? Most of the time the “why” tends to be trivial–We find ourselves in a situation much like Jonah—concerned with the trivial missing the transcendent—God ends with an open question that could be posed still today—around us within 10 miles just in the major metropolitan centers are over 37,000 people who are connected to no church, no denomination, and 45.6%, nearly 1 out of every 2 people you pass by are needing to hear about Jesus Christ.
What will you do about it? Complain about it being uncomfortable or change the equation—with an enduring forgiveness that allows us to be tools of reconciliation, enduring focus on the value of humanity beyond their status or station in life, and a compassion that allows us to live and even die for those who are not yet ready for heaven—but someday may be added to the GREAT EQUATION—finding a God who had PURSUED THEM UNTIL THE VERY END.