The prophet Jonah has appeared, at various times, immature, uncaring, and irrational. When God called upon him to be God’s mouthpiece at the sin city of Nineveh, he ran away. While the boat he hid in was about to split in two because of a howler of a storm, he slept like a baby. When God, in His infinite wisdom, forgave the people of Nineveh after they genuinely repented and covered themselves with sackcloth, he sulked and got angry at God’s compassionate gesture. Times may be aplenty that Jonah portrayed the characteristics of a weak human being but, his act of self-sacrifice should also be recognized and applauded.
Rudely awakened by panicked shipmen who were caught in the vise-like grip of a perfect storm, Jonah was uncomprehending at first. The stricken faces all around him told him all he needed to know. They were in a calamity so great that only an act of heaven will see them safely through. After the casting of lots pointed to Jonah as the source of ill omen, the sailors refused to end his life and soldiered on to fight the raging elements. As the sea threatened to swallow them whole, Jonah saw the light. In a moment of supreme selflessness, he asked the men to throw him into the unforgiving sea.
Except it was not the end of Jonah’s story. God still found a way to bring him to Nineveh. All of God’s plans came into fruition in God’s own time.