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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ninevite Syndrome

And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” Jonah 4:2 (New American Standard Bible)

When we think of Jonah we think of his spending 3 days in the belly of a great fish. Incidentally, just for the record Jesus believed this story and stated so (Matthew 12:39-41). Jonah’s loathing of Nineveh was so deeply ingrained he wanted to see God deal with that city in the harshest of terms.  God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them they needed to repent. Knowing God was merciful and compassionate he knew it wouldn’t be done Jonah’s way so he disobeyed the Lord and went in a different direction. We know how it went when God put a stop to his rebellion. This verse speaks to me at this time in my life as there are people currently who are making my life miserable. No matter how much grace I show to them they continue to attack me. My first reaction is to see God go after these people and put them through the ringer.

I call this the ‘Ninevite Syndrome.’ Jonah did not even want to preach God’s warning to the Ninevites for fear they would repent and God would show mercy and restraint. While I am praying for God to deal with those who attack me I hesitate to add “As You see fit” for I know God is merciful and compassionate and loves to forego calamity in His dealings with others. I want to pray “Deal with them Lord and take the gloves off.”

Speaking positively, our Heavenly Father is indeed a God that is slow to anger, abundant in lovingkindness and who wants to relent concerning calamity. These are some of the major attributes that Christ Himself modeled for us. God desires that I walk in that way too and has given me His Holy Spirit to help me. At that point my prayer for those that distress me can be “Please Lord, deal with them as You see fit. And please leave the gloves on.”