And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
Jonah has just reluctantly preached to the people of Nineveh. I bet you could still smell the whale on him. He is now gone out of the city and has pitched a tent to prepare for a pity party. God is doing amazing things through Jonah and Jonah sits there sulking with a sour scowl.
Notice that it says that God prepared a gourd. It almost sounds silly right? It’s a gourd! How can we get excited about a gourd? Yet, God prepared it. What a comfort to know that God is active in the life of his people, even in the small things. Does it not thrill your soul that the great God of heaven can drop handfuls of purpose for his children?
While we may think the gourd silly, the shade that it provide for Jonah was a source of delight and comfort for him. We can recall times when the Lord blessed us with some seemingly trivial thing that was a spring of joy in our lives. If we are not careful though we, like Jonah, will focus on the gift instead of the giver.
The next day in Jonah’s life God is still active and at work, yet the delight has been replaced with despair. When the source of our joy is the blessing then when it’s removed, so is our joy. Yet this day started out the same as the day before. God had prepared something for Jonah. This time it was not for his comfort, but for his character. Had Jonah made the giver the source of his joy, he’d still have been rejoicing despite the lost.
Some blessings in our life are temporal. They go as quickly as the come. However, we can have a constant source of joy in the depths of our soul recognizing the important thing is not the blessing, but the blesser. With our focus on our Father, we always have cause to rejoice. Even when it seems the winds of life are contrary, we can also have a strength of resolve, knowing it could just be God preparing something to build our character, rather than to give us comfort.