40 Days of Prayer: Monday, March 11
by Kyle York
Are you familiar with the story of Jonah? If you are, it’s likely because of the part about Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish. But the big fish is only a small part of the story. The much greater lesson in the book of Jonah is the compassion God feels for all people.
The story is mainly about God’s desire to reach a very wicked place. God sends Jonah to the pagan city of Nineveh to warn them that their sin is about to lead to their destruction. Shockingly, the entire city stops everything and radically repents of their sin. It is one of the most dramatic scenes in the entire bible. A true revival!
But when God responds with mercy toward the Ninevites, Jonah becomes furious. He is so displeased that he cries out, “I would rather die than live in a world where God shows mercy to these kinds of people!” (Jonah 4:1-3). Jonah simply has no category for a God who would give grace to the enemies of Israel.
But God makes a final appeal to Jonah, and ultimately to us. He says, “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11)
Jonah wanted God to simply bless the good guys and crush the bad guys, but the Lord makes it clear that His heart is merciful to sinners. Jonah, it turns out, needed the very same grace as the Ninevites. We all need divine mercy to forgive our sin. Thankfully, “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
As we learn to treasure the grace of Jesus more deeply in our own hearts, let us also pray that God will give us a sincere desire for the salvation of those who are lost apart from Christ. May God grant us compassionate hearts that reflect His own.