The Way of the Warrior Week 22 - The Warrior's Journey®

The Way of the Warrior Week 22

Author: Nathan Werner,

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

In our previous devotion, we noted that Jonah finally preached his sermon in Nineveh: “And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!'” (Jonah 3:4). A five second, fire and brimstone sermon had a startling effect: “And the people of Nineveh believed God” (3:5).  Hallelujah! What great news!

The Lord was delighted that the Ninevites chose repentance (3:10).  Jonah had a different perspective: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry” (4:1) Huh?!  What’s wrong with this picture?  The Lord was pleased, the Ninevites were redeemed, and Jonah’s annoyed!  One thing about the Bible, it truthfully tells the frailties of mankind, unbelievers and believers.  Jonah, the prophet, a spiritually attuned man is irked that the Lord was pleased that the Ninevites were spiritually awakened!

Jonah explains: “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'” (4:2).  This is the core message of God’s spiritual outreach for all mankind, and Jonah is miffed!

Jonah notes the Lord’s attributes: “…gracious…merciful…slow to anger…abounding in steadfast love…relenting from disaster” (4:2).  Jonah himself had just been saved from death, and he was angry the Lord saved the Ninevites from eternal death!  The Ninevites had seen that in Jonah’s case, God punishes sin, (swallowed by a fish and puked out after a stinking submarine ride), but also spared the sinner.  They had also witnessed that their fish god, Dagon, was submissive to the Lord of Creation – Jehovah. Dagon was not as merciful and gracious as Jehovah. Thus, they switched.  And Jonah’s mad!

Jonah had a remedy for his displeasure: “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (4:3).  Wait: Jonah in 1:12 asked for the sailors to throw him overboard so he could die.  Then in chapter 2, he prays for rescue, and the Lord saves him. Now, again he was hoping to die!  Jonah was on an emotional roller-coaster. This is not normal for a godly man. Jonah was freaking out, after his traumatic experiences.  What was going on?

Jonah suffered two traumas, twice he was at the brink of dying. In the megastorm being thrown into the sea, then being swallow by a ginormous fish and not being digested.  Three days he was travelling who knows where, at the bottom of the sea!

Listen, other godly men in the Bible wanted to die after they had trauma experiences.  Elijah killed hundreds of the prophets of Baal, that sent Elijah spiraling into depression (1 Ki. 18:40; 19:1).  In despair, Elijah: He asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4).

The VFW gives 5 signs that are clues for victims of PTSD.  1. Personality change:  sudden or gradual changes in the way someone typically behaves.  Jonah was showing this. 2. Agitation:  when someone seems uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody.  Jonah was evidencing this. 3. Withdrawal:  Withdrawn or isolated from other people; pulling away from family and friends.  Jonah is a bingo. Read the first chapter of Jonah. 4. Poor self-care: one has stopped taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.  ‘Throw me overboard!’ Jonah is a, Yup. 5. Hopelessness: One seems overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.  This is Jonah in spades.

Granted, we are only surmising about Jonah’s behavior, but it was so wildly strange – hoping twice for death, then swinging to gratitude when the Lord saved him.  This was not healthy behavior for a Spirit-led man. Trauma often trumps spiritual maturity.

So, before we jump with both feet on Jonah’s chest, thinking he’s a spiritual freak, pointing fingers in his face, we should be careful to consider his condition.  Yes, he was rebellious, yes, he had an attitude, but he might have been overwhelmed, since he suffered back to back trauma experiences. Ex-military types might better understand this condition.

In addition, it was the Lord who let him experience these incidents.  Brink of disaster, life threatening, hopeless kind of conditions. Might the Lord allow us to experience the same sort of situations?  Pause, take a breath – yep. Read 2 Sam. 13:11-20.

Military generals are audacious types, sending troops into nasty frays.  The Lord is much more audacious then generals. If he needs you, he’ll give you orders.  Dangerous or not. The difference: “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5)

There were plenty of Biblical characters who suffered trauma.  My goodness, Jesus Christ suffered horribly, then had a gruesome death.  Why would it not be part of a believer’s life? He or she might minister with understanding to those trauma survivors who do not have spiritual foundations.  The Lord helps Jonah, making him do deep reflection. The Lord doesn’t pummel him, he deals with Jonah in a thoughtful, careful manner.

“O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).  Does the Lord listen to him?  Yes, but like any good counselor he asks a question: “And the LORD said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?'” (4:4).  He doesn’t tell him to ‘knock-it-off’ like yours truly.

Here is Jonah’s interesting response: “Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city” (4:5). Is this disrespectful?  Ignoring the Lord, then refusing to answer.

But what was actually happening with Jonah?  Here’s the problem. Traumatized people often act, but, are unable to tell what is upsetting them.  Often, they cannot realize the relationship between their physical sensations and their emotions. This is called “alexithumia.” nThis means not having words for feelings. Their mind cannot identify their discomfort.  They know they are agitated and anxious, they just can’t explain it.

The Lord will work with Jonah, on his symptoms.  He will not forsake Jonah. After all the Lord is called: “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6).  He will not let Jonah languish.  He engages with him. Stay tuned…

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