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Tale of Two Buts

“But Jonah thought it was utterly wrong, and he became angry.” Jonah 4:1 (CEB)

Have you ever been obstinate? One time when I was about eight years old my parents told me I had to eat my helping of lima beans before I could leave the dinner table. I didn’t like lima beans. I became obstinate. According to Merriam-Webster obstinate is stubbornly adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion. Yep, that was me that night. My parents believed that providing lima beans for their children was a good and virtuous thing which would assist in our growing into healthy adults. I held to a different opinion that lima beans are disgusting and no child should be subjected to eating them as a part of an otherwise delicious meal. In this one instance in my life my obstinance won. I sat at the table until well after nine o’clock when my parents dismissed me from the table and sent me straight to bed. My parents had one idea, but Tim had another.

God wanted to save lost people. God wanted to use Jonah to let the people know that God wanted to save them. But Jonah! Jonah was obstinate! He just flat out did not like God’s idea. He understood it in principle and even knew it was God’s nature to save people. Jonah just did not like the idea at all. In fact, he says it would be better for him to be dead than to live and see these evil people spared. Jonah wanted God’s mercy and grace and love for himself, even for the people he loved and liked. But Jonah didn’t want it for the people he believed didn’t deserve it.

The best part of the fourth chapter of The Book of Jonah is the little phrase, “But God!” Twice in this short chapter there is a “but Jonah” moment. How grateful I am that there are also two “But God” moments to counteract Jonah. Jonah objected, got angry and had a pity party. But God did what God does ... continue to show grace, love and mercy especially when we don’t necessarily deserve it. How amazing is it that we have a God who counteracts our sin. The world was dead in its own sinfulness, but God sent Jesus to take away the sins of the world. I, for one, am glad we serve a God of buts!

So this Thanksgiving weekend we should ask ourselves how many times our story has been of “but me” or a story of “but God!” I pray that we will all be thankful for the many ways that God has broken in and done what only God can do in our lives. We all face difficult times where the circumstances seem overwhelming and even hopeless. Just remember those times do not define us, but God does! We serve an amazing God and we have an amazing Savior in Jesus! We should all be thankful indeed!

This Sunday we conclude our series on Jonah with Dave Jans preaching. I pray that everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see you in church.

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