Sunday, September 13, 2009

Doest Thou Well to be Angry?

And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. (Jonah 4.6-9)

How often our affections become entwined in the good blessings of God, the creature benefits, rather than the Creator. We think we deserve the good things we have but we do not. Do we lose our self-control when we lose thing precious to us? What does it say about us when we respond with anger to a mechanical breakdown of some inanimate object such as the car or computer, or grumble at the weather? Are we not quarreling rather with God instead of submitting with patience to his blessed providence which works all things for his glory and our good, even our sanctification? Consider these devotional remarks by Hugh Martin upon God's gracious and patient dealings with his prophet Jonah who responded to the providential removal of an undeserved blessing not unlike a petulent child who has a good thing taken away for his own well-being, and what lessons we may learn thereby.

Hugh Martin, A Commentary on Jonah, pp. 358-359:

Is there anything in which I am, like Jonah, unreconciled to the will of God -- His will in His Word; His procedure in providence? And when He expostulates kindly with me, -- "Doest thou well to be angry?" -- do I allow His condescending remonstrance to pass away unimproved? Let me beware. God's purpose, though unwelcome to me, is very dear to Him: it is after the counsel of His own will; it is according to the good pleasure of His will; and I must, if I am a child of God, be constrained to feel that it is so, and constrained to sympathise with Him, and acquiesce.

And He may teach me practically, as He taught Jonah. He may send me a welcome gift -- a lovely, serviceable ivy plant -- a sudden, acceptable, gladsome gourd.

I become exceeding glad of my gourd. My heart entwines around it. This pleasing prospect; this budding hope; this successful movement; this dawn of charming friendship with the bright-hearted and the noble; this light of sunshine falling most unlooked for on my vexed and weary heart; this welcome visitant, the golden-haired little one within my earthly home, crowing in my arms, searching my eye for the kindling glance of joy and love, and dancing gleefully on finding it; -- ah! in many a form my gourd may grow; and I am exceeding glad of my gourd. Even when I quarrel with God, I may be all the more glad of my gourd.

For what end may it have been been planted? For what end may it have grown? To the end, perhaps, that it may wither, and droop, and die; and that my heart, untractable, may at last, by losing it, be taught to feel, that if the object which my poor foolish love fastens on be hard to part with, how infinitely wrong in me to desire God to abandon those purposes which His infinitely wise will hath cherished from eternity, and which at once to bless and train me -- exercising my faith and patience, stripping me of all creature confidence that He may fill me with uncreated good, and rendering me one trophy more among the many thousands of the poor and needy whom angels have seen sitting not desolate even with every idol shattered, and whom angels have heard, through grace, exclaiming: Though my flesh and my heart fail; though my house be not so with God; though the fig-tree shall not blossom; yet will I rejoice in the Lord; for "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: this is all my salvation, and all my desire."


  1. Hugh Martin is one of my favorite authors, and this reminds me how very much I need to very soon read Jonah.