Then the Lord God appointed a plant, and it grew up to provide shade over Jonah’s head to ease his discomfort. Jonah was greatly pleased with the plant.Jonah 4:6 (HCSB)
Jonah was having a tantrum and sat outside of Nineveh in the desert, waiting to see if God would smite the sinners of that city or truly have mercy on them. Rather than examining his own heart, he continued to examine the hearts of those in the city. Jonah had built himself a simple shelter for shade, but it would not have taken long for the dead leaves of the branches above him to dry out in the heat and become worthless.
God decides that He will teach Jonah an important lesson—discipline him as a loving father would all His beloved children when they are in error. God miraculously causes a plant to grow up, full of life and vitality, to shade Jonah from the oppressive sun. Unlike the branches of Jonah’s own effort, this plant was strengthened by God and drew water from the earth so that it would not wither.
If the plant giving Jonah shade was supposed to show Jonah that God has mercy even on the stubborn, Jonah seems to have stubbornly ignored the lesson! Instead, Jonah simply rejoiced in the shade without thinking about the fact he didn’t deserve it.
Often, when we are consumed with anger, we fail to truly recognise what is going on around us. The red rage consumes our vision, and the darkness blocks out the light so much that we fail to see anything good or redeeming in the world around us. We overlook the blessings which God gives us, and in so doing, unjustly ignore God Himself.
The phrase “to ease his discomfort” could literally be translated “to deliver him from evil.” Often, when we are angry, we not only overlook the blessings, but we even look past the fact that God provides a deliverance from our situation. Even more tragically, we sometimes mistake God’s mercy and grace for divine approval of our anger, when it really should convince us of our error and sin! When we are angry we must pray for discernment even more than usual so that we are not blinded by our rage concerning God, concerning others, and concerning ourselves.