When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
Then God changed his mind. Nineveh would enjoy a stay of execution (although, as history would prove, its time would eventually come). Given that the usual test of a prophet is whether their premonitions come true, God has rather pulled the rug out from under Jonah.
A changeable God is not something that is necessarily easy to accept or live with. What do we do when the God we encounter day-to-day no longer resembles the God we were initially taught about?
We can all often clutch to a fixed notion of God. When that starts to become unstuck, it can lead to confusion, fear, shame, and even trauma. As unsettling as the process can be however, the result can often be liberating. After all, God is infinitely more complex than we can imagine and – despite what some might claim – genuine faith is compatible with doubt.
Jonah, like so many of us, will perhaps come to mourn the loss of one belief system. Yet, at the end of disillusionment he will perhaps find a different faith, one that is bruised, battered, yet more nuanced and real, rather than one wrapped in thin platitudes.
Jonah is coming to see who God is rather than who God should be.
How has doubt shaped and challenged your faith? In what ways has that process been a positive part of your journey?