Week 40 Grace for All

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 40

Scripture Readings: Jonah

Key Scripture Verse: Jonah 4: 4 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

God gave Jonah very specific instructions and he decided not to do what God told him to do. He hated the sinful ways of the Assyrians at Ninevah and when God told him to go and preach to them about their sin, he avoided it by going elsewhere. He ran away, hopped on a ship headed to Joppa to avoid the whole situation.

But, God had a plan and a mission for Jonah. And when the storm got so bad that the people on the ship thought they would perish, they cast lots to find out who and what was the source of their peril and it fell to Jonah who had already told them he was running from God. Even though they were reluctant to throw him overboard, he told them to do so and then God would calm the seas for them–and that is what happened. But, Jonah, all tangled in seaweed and moving towards his own peril was swallowed up by a whale. God had a plan for Jonah and he wasn’t pleased with Jonah’s response, but rescued him anyway. The whale regurgitated Jonah and he knew he had better get himself to Nineveh.

So, reluctantly he went to Nineveh and spoke to the people who then repented. God had compassion for them after they repented and did not bring the destruction on them that they had deserved. But, Jonah was mad about that.

Jonah knew God was compassionate and loving and just knew these people did not deserve his grace and was just adamantly opposed to that.

God had some more lessons for Jonah and finally challenged him about it. God had taken care of Jonah, rescuing him from the whale and then also providing some shelter under a vine. When he took the shelter away, Jonah in a bratty manner was mad again and said he might as well just die.

God must have just shaken his head on that one. He didn’t want Jonah to die. God wanted him to learn some discipline, wanted him to realize his blessings, and wanted him to realize that His grace is for all—not just for those who are already righteous.

It’s the story of the Prodigal son, isn’t it? The one son who stayed with his father and helped with the chores and followed his instructions, did all the things he was asked to do was mad when his brother returned home—this was the brother who defied his father and Dad was going to have a huge feast and celebration that he had come home. The audacity!

I guess that’s how Jonah felt—Nineveh didn’t deserve it.

But, actually—Jonah didn’t deserve it. We don’t deserve it. It’s grace. It’s a gift and God willingly and lovingly forgives us and blesses us, even when we don’t deserve it.

What a wonderful and loving God we have. Praise His Holy Name!





By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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