Jonah 4:10-11 (The Message)
God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”
God now turns a mirror to Jonah, asking him how he can be so upset about the demise of a tree, but not rejoice in the rescue of over a hundred thousand people in Nineveh. God poses this question to Jonah, and then…
… that’s where the story abruptly ends! This would have to be one of the biggest cliff-hangers ever. The story feels unfinished, incomplete, like there should be something more after verse 11. But there is nothing. That’s it. End of story.
[Go ahead and double-check your own Bible. If you find any additional verses, please let me know immediately!!]
Cliff-hangers are meant to draw the action out beyond the end of the story. They’re meant to leave you hungry for more, and to have you yearning for what comes next. We are meant to continue thinking about God’s forgiveness and grace, about Jonah’s reluctance, about the Ninevite’s restoration… and about where we see ourselves in this amazing story.
What would you imagine could have happened next in Jonah’s story? What would you like to have happen between God and Jonah? If you were able to sit next to Jonah on the ground that day as he considered the challenges God had put to him, what advice would you give?
For an adorable, highly-editorialized version of Jonah’s story, as told by a curly-headed 6-year-old, click here. It’s totally worth it.