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My Poor Gourd! by Brian Carlisle

God caused a gourd and its vine to grow up over the top of Jonah, to 
give Jonah shade from the hot sun

Text Version | Afrikaans | Italian

A Story About Jonah

falling off a bike How would you feel if you were riding your brand new bicycle down your street and suddenly a garbage can blew into your path and caused you to wreck? And not only did you destroy your brand new bicycle, but you broke your arm and both legs! Then if that wasn't enough, the wreck knocked out all your front teeth. Wouldn't that anger you?

Now imagine that while you are lying there bleeding and in extreme pain, your father runs up to the garbage can and begins crying aloud because you had dented his garbage can. How would you feel if your father fell on his face in the dirt and began screaming and kicking the ground and crying, “Oh, my poor garbage can is dented! What ever shall I do? I wish that I were dead!”

“Unbelievable!” you might declare. “This would never happen. My father would never do that!”

How about if I told you a different story about an older man, very dignified and proper, who fell on his face and cried because a worm had eaten and killed a weed? Still won't believe my second story?

Supposing I told you that the man was more concerned about his dead weed than about the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and cattle. No way? You think that there is a better chance that your father would cry over the garbage can before someone would cry over a dead weed?

Believe it or not, the story about the man and the weed is true. The story is about a prophet of God named Jonah.

God sent a great storm upon the board and everyone on board feared the ship was going to sink Jonah informed the Captain that he was to be thrown overboard into the sea

Perhaps you've heard the story about Jonah, a prophet of God, and how he was called by God to go to the wicked city of Nineveh. God had instructed Jonah to proclaim to the people of Nineveh to repent or face God's judgment. As the story goes, Jonah fled from God's face and tried to escape to Tarshish in a boat, but God sent a great storm upon the boat and everyone on board feared the ship was going to sink. The Captain could do no more to save his ship so he called upon all the men on the ship to call on their God for mercy.

Just as the boat was about to be destroyed, Jonah confessed his sins to the Captain. Jonah informed the Captain that he was to be thrown overboard, into the sea. Reluctantly the Captain obeyed Jonah, and immediately after Jonah landed in the water, he was swallowed by a whale.

The big fish took Jonah to dry land Jonah proclaimed Gods message and urged the people to repent

It took Jonah three days for him to repent and for the whale to spit Jonah out, onto the shore. Sad, and looking like he had been through the worst three days of his life, Jonah proceeded to Nineveh. After some time, Jonah, smelling like half-digested seaweed, entered the city of Ninevah. Reluctantly, Jonah proclaimed God's message and urged the people to repent.

The King was moved by the message and made a decree that all his people should repent and turn from their wicked ways. The King prayed to God for mercy and compassion.

God caused a gourd and its vine to grow up over the top of Jonah, to 
give Jonah shade from the hot sun Here's where I want to start today's story.

Silently and angrily, Jonah stomped his way to the east side of the city and built himself a booth. Even though the people of Nineveh had repented of their sins, Jonah felt that the people had committed so many sins that God would not forgive them nor spare them the wrath of his judgment.

How long Jonah waited for God to send down judgment upon the city, the Bible doesn't say. However, the Bible does say that God caused a gourd (similar to a squash or type of vegetable) and its vine to grow up over the top of Jonah, to give Jonah shade from the hot sun. This made Jonah very happy.

Then God allowed a worm to eat the gourd and the vine 
withered and died But the next morning, God allowed a worm to infest the gourd, and the vine withered and died. Next, God prepared a strong, east wind to arise and allowed the sun to beat down upon Jonah's head so that Jonah fainted from the heat. This is when Jonah threw his little tantrum. He pouted and cried and even wished that he were dead. “It is better for me to die than to live,” wailed Jonah.

The Bible goes on to say that God finally spoke to Jonah and asked Jonah why he was so angry, even unto death. How do you think Jonah responded?

A. “I'm mad because I lost a lot of money.”
B. “I'm mad because there are still wicked people in Ninevah.”
C. “I'm mad because I smell worse than half-digested seaweed. Phew!!!!”
D. “I'm terribly angry because my weed died.”

God rebuked Jonah for having more pity on the gourd than on the great city 
that God spared because they repented If you guessed “D,” you were right. Jonah was more concerned about the weed that gave him shade than he was about all the people who had repented and been spared from God's wrath!

God rebuked Jonah for having more pity on the gourd than on the great city that God spared because they repented. The Bible says that there were more than six-score thousand (120,000 people) that were too young to tell their right hand from their left. This number didn't even include the teenagers and adults! God wanted Jonah to have mercy and compassion on the people of Nineveh.

Now we may never cry over a garbage can or a weed, but so many times we put little, unimportant things ahead of telling others about God's saving grace. We would rather play a game or watch a movie instead of telling others about God. Or maybe we are more concerned with how our hair looks than about whether or not our best friend is going to heaven.

No matter what the weed or item that we love so much, we must remember that God wants to save everyone from their sins, no matter how bad they've been. We must also remember that God also wants us to care more for the sinner and his salvation than for the little things that have no eternal value at all. We are to have mercy and compassion on all people.



1. What vegetable grew up and gave Jonah shade?
2. What ate and killed the vine?
3. Why was Jonah angry?


People are more important than things.


“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9b).


Is there someone you know who doesn't know Jesus
and does bad things? Do you think you have the
courage to tell them about Jesus or do you want to
run away like Jonah? Why did Jonah run away from
telling people about God?

Think of reasons you don't tell people about
Jesus? Can you think of ways to tell people about

[After discussion:] Maybe you can invite them to
go to church or youth group with you. Maybe you
can go out of your way to be kind to them and, if
they ask why, tell them it is because you and
Jesus love them.

The Word of God says that the angels rejoice when
someone repents (Luke 15:10). Will you be glad
with the angels when someone you know comes to
know Jesus, even if you think they don't deserve
it? Let's take a moment and pray for God to
forgive us, help us overcome our weaknesses, and
give us courage to tell people about Jesus and
rejoice with them when they accept Him as their


Dog and boy praying

Dear God, thank You for the stories in the
Bible that teach us how we should live. Help us
to remember that being concerned about people
is much more important than being concerned
about things. Give us courage to tell others
about Jesus and let our hearts be happy with
them when they accept you as their Savior.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Jonah 4:1-11


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Arch Books Bible Stories: Jonah and the Very Big Fish
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(Hosea 14; Amos 1, 8-9; Jonah 1-3; Micah 6; Nahum 1; Habakkuk 3; Zephaniah 1-2) -
Unabridged Audiobook [Download]

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