|I can’t say that I have ever been so angry with God that I would rather die than live. But there have been times in my life when I thought I might be better off dead than alive, so I guess that is getting close to the experience Jonah had in the lessons for today. Still, I don’t think I get angry with God for not doing what I want or for treating me more harshly than evil doers. What I am guilty of is just not trusting in God when the going gets tough. I keep having to learn the same lesson that Jonah had to learn. God sends me blessings, then God takes them away. Then I get discouraged and resort to despair, arguing with God that I have reason to feel that way. I feel sorry for myself. I think we all do that. Jonah was certainly feeling sorry for himself and even quite self-righteous. We all do that too.
In those times, like he did with Jonah, God gently puts us in our place and assures us that God alone dispenses judgment, mercy, and blessings. I must keep relearning that I can’t presume my will for my life, or the lives of others is wiser than the wisdom of God. Like Jonah, I am reminded of “my place.” Yet, the lessons for today help me see that “my place” is not one of marginality with God. Like Jonah, my life doesn’t need to be such a drama of give and take, win and lose. It can be one of quiet, trusting, gratitude.
Learning to call on the Lord for mercy, for kindness, and for grace when times get tough is a regular habit cultivated by most of us. But my prayers are often prayers of pleading, of feeling marginalized with God. There is even a bit of that in Psalm 86 today. Like the Psalmist, I recognize the greatness of God and his wondrous deeds and my constant need for mercy and grace. I also seem to need constant uplifting. Yet, I think Jesus is teaching me today to pray a prayer that demonstrates a greater confidence in my relationship with God. It doesn’t have to be such a drama. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus brings us closer to a God that is holy, but not so overwhelming with grandeur. First, Jesus invites us to address God as Father. That is quite different from the relationship we often have with our God in the Old Testament. Then Jesus invites us to be open to the coming of the Kingdom as a reality that is all around us. We don’t need to plead for our lives to a wondrous God in the glorious heavens. We are invited to trust in a loving and present God who gives us what we need and forgives our sins daily, just as easily as we can forgive the sins of others. To me, the Lord’s prayer is a prayer of guidance for a closer relationship with God. Jesus teaches us a prayer of trust and gratitude for not only an intimate relationship with God, but also with those around us so that we can live free from anxiety. I pray today that I can deepen that relationship by learning to better trust that God.