Have you ever been in a storm at sea? Thunder mingles with the roar of waves beating against the side of the boat. Lightning zigzags across the sky and seems to pierce the froth of the wild breakers. Passengers slip and slide and clutch at rails at the side of the corridors, or collide with furniture as they try to cross a cabin.

The sailors in the ship where Jonah was peacefully sleeping below did everything they could to keep their boat afloat before they began their search for someone to blame for the storm. It was Jonah’s fault, you remember, because he had turned from the word of God to him at that time to do an exactly opposite thing. His refusal to believe that God’s word to him was of primary importance, and to act upon it in that moment of history, affected not only himself but other people—the sailors at that dramatic moment, and also the people of Nineveh. Jonah was the “troubler,” responsible for a physical storm affecting other people, and responsible for spiritual ignorance on the part of a whole city.

Happily for the sailors, and for Nineveh, Jonah learned a tremendous lesson within the great fish’s belly. Jonah had a great change within, and God answered his cry for deliverance. He gave Jonah another opportunity to consider the importance of His word to him, and to act upon it. Jonah’s proclamation of the word of God to Nineveh affected the people of that city to the extent that they repented, and their history was changed.

For whom are we in danger of causing trouble? What people are we plunging into a storm at sea? Is “compassion” simply a musical sounding word in our mouths? Are we unwilling to pay a price to act compassionately toward those who are affected by us?

Another person in the Bible spoke about “troubling”: ...

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