The prophet Jonah hoped for only one thing-that his prophetic message of doom and destruction for the Assyrian capital of Nineveh be proven right. When the obliteration of Nineveh did not come to pass, he brooded with deep bitterness:
But to Jonah, this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord when I was still at home? That is what I was trying to forestall when I fled to Tarshish. I know that you are a great and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. – Jonah 4:1-3
To Jonah, his hopes and dreams were shattered in the blink of an eye. What he did not know, at that time, was that Nineveh will indeed be destroyed by an invading army. However, it will be at a future date and time of God’s choosing.
To become a prophet, one has to leave everything behind. Friends, family, and the daily comforts of life become footnotes when one is called to serve God. A prophet’s life is upended and he goes where God leads him. His hopes and dreams are focused on the moment and centered on God:
- A prophet hopes to prove that he is the right man for the job. He does this by doing everything in his power to relay God’s message precisely in the way that God wants it to be relayed. It is sometimes hard to do when the message draws out the ill will of the populace and violence is directed towards the prophet.
- A prophet hopes to be strong enough to carry out God’s plans. This requires great mental fortitude to overcome or control fear and the willingness to lay one’s life on the line.
- A prophet hopes to carry his message across to God’s intended audience and listeners.
Beyond the trappings, a prophet is but a simple man. At the back of his mind remains the desire to return home when God’s mission is accomplished. The warm visions of a loving hearth and home keep driving him forward. Just like Jonah who found out that there is life beyond the whale.