One of my favorite books of all time is Anne of Green Gables (and Anne of Avonlea). I connected with Anne so much as a pre-teen, and it never really went away. One of the ways I related was her knack for getting into “scrapes” and not having a clue what to do about it other than to say, “Tomorrow’s a new day, with no mistakes in it.” This book introduced to me the concept of the “Jonah day.” You know that day where you start out with not enough sleep, you keep making silly mistakes that make your day that much harder, and you wish the world would just leave you alone so you could start over tomorrow?
This comes from a very familiar biblical account. Jonah had a really bad day, too, in which he started out very distracted from his purpose. Calamity struck while he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, and the result was that others were put in danger (Jonah 1:4). But the ship’s crew learned the power of God through this, which shows us that no matter how badly we think we’ve messed things up we can still bring glory to God if we are willing to stand up and teach others about Him (Jonah 1:9). Jonah’s situation didn’t really improve, but it’s important to see that the men called on the Lord based on Jonah’s confession, and they came to fear the Lord greatly and worshiped the One who had saved them (Jonah 1:14-16).
Jonah is extremely repentant, and he is brought to the shore so he can carry out his mission (Jonah 2). Jonah’s fire and brimstone sermon is believed by the people of Nineveh, and, like the Sailors, they call on the Lord and God sees their repentance (Jonah 3:5, 10). Jonah develops a serious attitude problem because God relented (Jonah 4:1). Why is it that we become agitated when our expectations are disappointed? It’s because we’re taking things for granted. Notice a theme: God had appointed a great fish to rescue Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Now He appoints a plant to shade the disgruntled man from the sun (Jonah 4:6). A worm is appointed to eat the plant, and a scorching east wind is appointed to add to the man’s discomfort as the sun beat down on his head (Jonah 4:7-8). Jonah decides that death would be preferable to this.
Here’s the point: God had appointed Jonah. Jonah was totally oblivious to the fact that it was not at all about him! The whole reason God had told him to come to Nineveh was that 120,000 people needed to be told that serious calamity was coming their way (Jonah 4:11). Jonah seems to have forgotten what his purpose was, which is easy to understand. How many times do we neglect to fulfill a duty to our God, then struggle when it seems like nothing is working out for us? We forget why we’re even here! What is important to remember is this: when the world won’t leave you alone and you can’t seem to make a right turn, recognize that it is not about you. God made “Jonah days” for a reason. They are a reminder that God has appointed you for something very, very important. Don’t run away from it! Fulfill your duty to God. Seek out His will for you in His word. Remember, as my sister used to remind me nearly every day: it’s not all about you!
By Keeley Rollert
Keeley and her husband David are recent graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Currently, they work with the church in New Hampshire They have one fabulous son.