Most of us, both theists and non-theists, have heard of the story of Jonah and the Whale. I mean, technically it was a "big fish" but who REALLY believes that a man was just chilling in the gut of a sea creature pondering his life choices? Like most stories the point isn't to necessarily dispute the factual status or account, rather it is about the meta-message. There is something for us to learn about ourselves in stories like the one about Jonah's rejection of his mission and purpose.If you recall the story, Jonah (after being spit out by the creature) preached a sermon to Nineveh. Then he got mad at God. Then he went to a high place to wait for Nineveh's destruction and God provided shade for Jonah. That made Jonah mad too. Then God asks Jonah why he would be mad about both the people of Nineveh and the bush that died after God provided it for Jonah's comfort.
I always found it funny that Jonah was so pissed, and respected that he was straight up about it. Jonah was cranky and self-centered and couldn't see beyond his own circumstances. I am sure many of us can find ourselves in his story. I know I've been pissed many times when people who I believed deserved punishment didn't get it. The irony is that when we focus in on resenting others for what they do or don't experience we only really punish ourselves. In the story God makes that clear. He doesn't punish Jonah for acting like a total asshole. He just reflects his motives and heart back to him. "Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?" Jonah is all cranky and kind of runs out of reasons. I think it is the same for us. Maybe we have to wonder about our ourselves and our own sense of entitlement that keep us angry about those other people not getting what they deserve . For me, the story of Jonah has always been a call to consider my priorities and a reminder to not be such an asshole. Like Jonah we can't miss what we are gifted to do in this world because we are too busy hoping others get their lives right. Maybe our focus on them is more about our own fears. They are distractions. Our self fueled resentments are distractions to the real important work we have in this world. It is time for us to get over Ninevah and the dead bush and stop being such assholes