The heart of Jonah is really a heart of anger, anger at God. It is a heart of rebellion and bitterness at the ways and will of God. I had this heart. In my misery, just like Jonah, I was crying out to God for relief, but I could not get it because I did not really see the anger. It was hidden deep inside me, but not hidden from Him! He wanted my heart to be free! I deceived myself because nice Christians are not supposed to be angry at God, right? But I was. Thank God for His mercy to let me be miserable enough to cry out and seek out the root of my misery. I kept saying, “Can somebody come and save/help me?” Then He sent my sister, Marlene, with this revelation about the condition of Jonah’s heart and mine.
I want to share my story because I want you to be set free from this, too. When I saw it, I asked God if He could ever forgive me of such prideful anger. He said, “That is why I went to the Cross.” I was reminded of what Jesus said on the Cross and that comforted me: He said, I forgive them, and it is finished. Then He said something that shocked me that I will never forget: He said, “Elaine, Half MY church is angry at Me.” Are you angry with God?
At the beginning of my last fast, I knew that my heart wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was. I prayed, “God, create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” and then I kept getting more and more miserable, to the point that I thought I couldn’t get back from that miserable place. I just wanted to die. I thought that God Himself had turned His back on me. This separation from Him and everyone that loved me was almost more than I could bear. I didn’t know what was wrong or really how to fix it. God knew…and in His great mercy, He let me experience that depth of misery to open my eyes…He heard my cry.
So, in yet another desperation, I answered an altar call for those whose hearts were not free. That was me. That day on my face I begged God not to pass me by, to set me free, to show me the way out. After prayer, I felt better but still not free. The next morning, this teaching on Jonah was presented to me, and my eyes were open. I saw the angry at God, just like Jonah. I, too, was in Nineveh, obeying God and watching all the great things God was doing, but with an angry, bitter heart. Now I could see it, repent, and get set free.
My spiritual father, Shane, had a dream for me about a large plant with three roots of bitterness. The more the fruit of that bitterness got cut off without being pulled out, the deeper the roots went. I realized that the three roots were connected to a large main root or plant that was the anger at God. From it came three roots that God showed me many people have. They were: (1) Anger about a trauma in your life, something that happened that you thought was very unfair, like sickness or death of a loved one; (2) Anger about a relationship that wasn’t going the way you wanted it to; and (3) Anger that things in your life did not turn out the way you expected. Anger is all about things not going or being the way WE want or expect or really demand them to be. We want our way, not God’s way, and when we don’t get it, anger takes root in our hearts. That’s what happened to me, all three roots sprang from the main root: anger at God.
I remembered a time in my childhood when I was about 14 years old that I was wondering if God was even there or even cared because life was hard for me. I had that thought that God really didn’t know what He was doing and made an agreement with that lie of the devil. A couple years later when I was 16, I became a self-professed atheist because I swallowed the lie that bad things can’t happen to good people. Atheists are really people who are very angry at God. Really, the truth is that there are no “good” people (Mark 10:18) and God knows His plan of redemption and His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). Thank God I got saved a few years later but that root, that lie of mistrust and questioning God’s goodness and wisdom, was still there in me when things got hard.
When we are angry, just like Jonah, we run from God’s will, but really there is no place to go. God will always win, will always bring us back to our place, just like Jonah. Thank God! In Jonah 2:2, it says, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me: out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.” Jonah, like myself, was notcrying out with a repentant heart but because he was miserable. Read Jonah chapter 2. So many times I felt that same separation from God and felt my soul and strength faint away. It says in verse 8 that, “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” The angry lies that I was believing about God kept me from my own mercy, but He was waiting for me, for a true repentant heart, for me to see and come to Him, not just for a brief shelter and reprieve from my affliction but for a true repentance and transformation. He never gave up on me. “He will never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). I could just repent and come back to Him, and you can, too. That’s the truth.
So Jonah obeyed God but look at his response after seeing the mighty work of God. (Jonah 4:1): “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.” Jonah knew the ways and nature of God and still he wanted to die? So God asked him in verse 4, “Doest thou well to be angry?” Or, “Is it right for you to be angry?” “Do you have a right to be angry?” We do not have the right to be angry and if we think so, it will never be well with our souls. It was not well with Jonah; it was not well with me; and if you are angry, it is not well with you. Jonah separated himself by going outside the city. That’s what anger will do. It will make you feel isolated, and you will isolate yourself. God in His mercy kept sending comfort and relief for Jonah with a gourd and a wind, just like us, a little breakthrough here and a little there, but God in His mercy also kept removing the temporary fixes so that the real root of anger can be taken out and healed. God knew his heart was still bitter and angry just like mine was. Jonah made his choice, even with a merciful God pursuing him and his freedom, to remain angry (verses 9-11). Jonah stayed right there in his anger. YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
There is freedom from anger at God today! Open your eyes to see it, whatever form it took, and run to Him for forgiveness. He is right there waiting for you! Give up your right to be angry about whatever it is. We really don’t have the right to be angry at God anyway. Say this: I give up my right to be angry about (whatever it is).
His ways are perfect, good, and He is for us. When I gave up this right and this anger, the freedom came. The peace came. The joy rose up. Hope and trust returned. TRUST IN HIM. His ways are perfect. This is the truth. Anger will do you no good at all. It will keep you unhappy with everyone and everything, and you will keep yourself from His mercy. You don’t have to go on like that, to go on wanting to die. Do you want real freedom today so that you don’t have to keep going back to that miserable, angry, lonely place? Or do you just want another quick fix on a never ending roller coaster ride of misery? Come home. Repent today. He is waiting for you with arms open wide.