"And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd" (Jonah 4:6).
In the brief story of Jonah, the Lord has given us a striking insight into His providential ways with His people. He "prepared" four special instruments for revealing His will and His great concern for the people God wanted to help. Each involved a very ordinary thing, functioning in an extraordinary way (providential miracles, as it were).
First, "the LORD had prepared a great fish" (Jonah 1:17), both to save Jonah from drowning and to enable God to convince him of the urgent necessity of fulfilling the ministry to which He had called him. Then, after he had preached in Nineveh and God had spared the city, Jonah became angry and wanted to die, so "the LORD God prepared a gourd . . . that it might be a shadow over his head" (4:6). Jonah was thankful for this providential shade from the heat, but he was still not thankful for the sparing of Nineveh. Therefore, "God prepared a worm," and by the next day, "it smote the gourd that it withered" (4:7). Furthermore, "God prepared a vehement east wind" (4:8), and the blasting heat angered Jonah more than ever, so that he again wanted to die.
Finally Jonah was able to hear what God was really saying to him in all these circumstances, and he realized the tremendous scope of God's mercy and compassion for the lost.
As with Jonah, God speaks to us through ordinary things in providential circumstances. Whether by a marvelous deliverance or a comforting provision, a sudden loss or a mighty storm, God leads us into His will and transforms our lives and hearts to conform to His love. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). HMM