Jonah was a Prophet called by God to do great things. But Jonah was also a rebel. Jonah could not see beyond his own selfishness and hatred for a group of people called the Ninevites. God wanted Jonah to carry a message of grace, mercy, and repentance to people who desperately needed it. What Jonah quickly discovered was his own rebellion and selfishness needed to be confronted first. Jonah had to learn something about God's grace and mercy for himself. Jonah had to overcome his own rebellion and disobedience. Jonah had to see his own great need for God. Jonah tried to run from the mission and calling God had for him, only to discover that the price for rebellion and disobedience is high. Mocking God comes with a high price tag with very little return.
God redirected Jonah to Nineveh to confront a cruel and dangerous city. Jonah eventually delivered God's message to Nineveh. Nineveh repented of her sin and rebellion. Despite the great work of God in the lives of the Ninevites through Jonah, Jonah's hatred for these people still ran deep. Jonah quickly returned to his bitterness and rebellion toward Nineveh and toward God. Jonah relapsed. Jonah found it easier to live the life of a rebel. Jonah found it easier to return to failure. Jonah teaches us a much needed lesson about the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God that should lead us to a life of victory and significance. Instead, for Jonah, it led him back to failure and defeat. Jonah relapsed because Jonah chose to focus on the wrong things.
You and I can avoid returning to our old, failed ways. We can avoid returning to rebellion, hatred, bitterness, anger, and failure. We can move beyond these strong feelings and emotions when we truly repent and give our lives to God and let Him direct our paths in all circumstances every single day.