We all know that person with a knack for making everything all about themselves. Maybe he always one-ups your stories or perhaps she manages to insert herself into every conversation. Worst of all is the constant complainer, that person who finds the negative in every situation and takes even minor inconveniences personally.
Throughout the book of Jonah, we see the prophet’s pattern of negativity and self-absorption. In Chapter 2, Jonah has just experienced one of the most miraculous rescues in human history. In true Old Testament fashion, he writes a prayer in response. But instead of praising God to the heavens, Jonah’s prayer seems to be more about himself and his traumatic experience than it is about God’s power and might.
We can see Jonah’s self-focus from the very beginning in Chapter 1 when he attempts to run from God. It culminates in spectacular fashion in Chapter 4 when he tells God he’s angry enough to die. He doesn’t seem to care about the sailors when their lives were threatened by the storm. And he certainly doesn’t care about the Ninevites, as evidenced by his anger at God’s mercy toward them. It is truly all about him.
It’s easy to spot someone else being overly negative or making it all about themselves – it’s much harder when that someone is us. Yet we can quickly fall into this pattern when we take our eyes off God and focus solely on ourselves and our own problems. This doesn’t mean we should pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t. However, we can follow the psalmists’ example and take our complaints first to God before sharing them with others. And then we can turn towards Him and remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done for us. Because, after all, it’s all about Him.
Do you agree that Jonah’s prayer in Chapter 2 sounds self-focused? Why or why not?
Have you found yourself falling into a pattern of negativity and self-absorption? Take a few minutes and write out or say aloud some words of praise to God, being specific about who He is and what He has done for you.