“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Worth Mourning Over

I just finished reading the Old Testament book of Jonah in my chronological Bible study reading. This book has so much depth. I just love to read it - it's so much more than the "fish story" I learned as a kid.

Several years back, I did a four-part series of devotionals on this book. I've decided to share one of them again, as I have a lot of new readers since 2008. It's my favorite of the four - and the one I most needed myself! (but you can see the others here, here, and here) I hope it blesses you.

Have you noticed that almost every time you look at a person from the Bible and think "what an idiot he/she is," God reminds you that you aren't so different? Well, it may not happen to you, but it sure does to me--more often than I'd like to admit. And it happened as I was reading the fourth chapter of the book of
Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." Jonah 4:5-9 NIV
Here's Jonah the prophet, man of God, living proof of the Lord's mercy, ready to die because his "shade plant" is no longer shading him from the sun. He's angry--really angry--over a vine that wasn't there 25 hours ago and isn't again now.

Now, maybe you've never gotten this angry about a plant, but I have certainly blown my top over things just as important. The frustration I've expressed when, say, I get a run in my stocking, when my internet is down, or I'm behind a slow vehicle, can irritate me much more than it should--almost as much, I'm ashamed to say, as Jonah. The things that make me upset are often ridiculous.

Yet there are other things--much more important ones--that cause me little to no grief. Both of my parents, all four of my brothers, and all of their spouses and children are likely unsaved, as is most of my not-as-immediate family. Many on my husband's side of the family do not know Jesus either. And of course, there are millions of citizens of this world who are heading for eternal damnation.

Sure--I'll get anxious or upset about it sometimes. I'll yearn to do something about it. But not always. Sometimes, if you judge my reactions, I mourn more over a lost set of keys than my lost parents. And, on those days, I'm just like Jonah.
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:10-11 NIV
Of course He should. And so should I. What's your "vine?" And what is your "Ninevah?"

Heavenly Father, please help me to get my priorities straight. Guide me, Lord, to put Your interests ahead of my own selfish ones. Help me, Lord, to truly mourn over the lost, and to let go of the things of this world that I desire only to bring me pleasure, or to make my life easier. Help me to care less and less about my vine, and more and more about my Ninevah. Help me to see how ridiculous I look--how like Jonah I look--when I am distressed and angry about the things in this life while ignoring the people You so long for me to bring to You. Thank You, Lord, for dying for me, and all the people You long for me to help You reach. In the precious name of your Son I pray. Amen

We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

Graphics courtesy of Christians Unite

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths


  1. Great post. Yes, I also have a Jonah mentality more often than I care to admit. Lord, put a burning zeal in our hearts for lost sinners, may we reach out to them like someone did for us.

    1. Thanks, La! I SO need that zeal too.

  2. Oh yeah. Too often my priorities are way out of whack. This is something I'm really mulling over lately. Thanks, JoDear.

    1. I need the priority check too - a TON. You're welcome.

  3. I believe with all of my heart that this burdens all of our Lord's redeemed sons and daughters. I feel your pain and anguish in your words as I too know of a brother and sister, aunts, cousins, etc. who are not born again and they do not know the Lord Jesus. I even wonder about my Father who has died 2 years ago whether he knew our Lord or not. He was a church member but I do not know if he was born again. I often witnessed to him for 4 years, but in his last two years not so much. I became discouraged. It makes for very awkward times of family gatherings. I get so provoked by little things that matter nothing in eternity, but my zeal for the Lord's burden too has quieted and it is always my desire to be comfortable or liked and not misunderstood or persecuted. Pray for me as I pray for you in this area of our walk.

    1. Oh, Cliff. I will absolutely pray for you. But I CAN say, with certainty, that wondering about your father will do no good. Keep your eyes ahead - wonder about those around you who it isn't too late for. We can all still have an impact on the lost souls around us. Praying for zeal for the lost, my friend! Thanks for stopping by.


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