Jonah, like all of us, is not perfect. While we are all familiar with the aftermath of what happened to him after his rescue, he has yet to understand how deep his bias has affected him.
To recap, Jonah has seen the error of his ways and goes to Nineveh. After delivering the news of God’s judgment, word has spread throughout the city, and the people have atoned for their sins. God, seeing the remorse in their hearts, spared the city.
Jonah was not pleased with this. Before his disobedience, he was reluctant to deliver the warning to the citizens of Nineveh. This reluctance is because of the history of bad blood between his people and citizens. Throughout the book, we can see his bias towards everyone in that area. So much so that even after God spared the city, he created a shelter nearby to wait and see for possible destruction.
As a result, God causes a plant to grow over Jonah’s shelter, providing him shade from the sun. However, he also compels a worm to bite the plant’s root, causing it to wither. Now susceptible to the elements, Jonah becomes faint and weak and pleads for God to kill him.
Unfortunately, not much happens after this. While it’s easy to condemn Jonah for his bias, we, too, are not free from such prejudices. In reality, everyone is a little bit biased—whether it’s towards people who talk, look, or act differently—we are often hostile towards unfamiliar people or experiences.
It is essential to recognize our own biases. Unlike God, our perceptions and ideas have limitations. As such, we must ask for guidance and knowledge. After becoming aware of our biases, we can learn from them and hopefully follow the word of God in a better and more fulfilling way. While we may not be perfect, God can see our effort so long as we are sincere and willing to improve.
by Chad Groen