December 15th - Day 19 | Promises: An Advent Family Devotional
“ 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord…1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”
- Jonah 1:1-3, 4:1-2
Have you ever played the game “Mercy”?
Two people, usually siblings, align their hands and lock fingers. Each one tries to bend the other player’s fingers back to inflict insane amounts of pain without letting go. The first person to crumble and shout, “Mercy!” is declared the loser. In real life, even if our choices have been the catalyst for our pain, we are quick to call for God’s mercy and quick to believe He would be “right” in extending it. When others are experiencing the painful consequences of their actions, we aren’t so quick to believe they are as “deserving” of God’s mercy as we are. We can get so used to living in the mercy and forgiveness of God, we forget we were unworthy recipients.
This struggle was real for Jonah. He had witnessed God’s grace to his nation, but when God called Jonah to go warn the evil Assyrians in Nineveh to turn from their wicked ways, he had no desire for them to receive mercy. Jonah ran because unlike the sinners of his nation, he didn't believe the sinners of Nineveh should grasp God’s forgiveness at all. Jonah was angry when the people of Nineveh turned from their wicked ways and turned towards God. He was hoping for God’s judgment in place of God’s mercy.
As you hang your ornament on the tree, remember God’s message and mercy isn’t just for those who already love Him. God’s love and mercy reaches to people who seem the farthest from Him, even to our enemies! You used to be an enemy of God, and your role this Christmas is to see as many as possible turn to God to receive His mercy.