As Nolan went back to his chicken nuggets, I reflected a bit more on the rest of Jonah's story that is not typically included in the average Sunday school lesson. Though Jonah did go to Nineveh, as instructed, to pronounce judgement on it (and--in fact--bring repentance. That's what God can do!), he was cranky and self-righteous. He couldn't believe that God would forgive and bring new life to such a guilty people. He sulked on the outskirts of town under the shade of a vine provided by the Lord until it shriveled up. Jonah was not happy with this moment either.
In the face of this man with whom many of us could relate, God showed His heart in Jonah 4:10-11.
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?
The story of Jonah and the journey through which God took him is fascinating and makes for a great lesson. But one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture comes after the popular narrative. God cares so deeply for and deals so gently with those He yearns to save. His perspective is not defensive or insecure, but omniscient. He sees them as not knowing their right hand from their left, lost, and desperately needing a savior. Such compassion is beautiful! This same God cares for me today, too. He asks me then to love others as He loves me-with compassion and grace.
Pretty profound for a Happy Meal.