If this core mystery of the Christian faith (which I believe can never be truly articulated) is true, and that the Creator not only took part in the human drama, but suffered in that drama, perhaps we have an understanding and compassionate God, not one out to get us? Maybe it’s all good.
And so the writer of Jonah told a story of God’s expansive mercy for non-Israelites; in other words, maybe God cares for other people too. And the author used as his illustration a clearly fictionalized account of their long-gone ancient foe to express his newfound belief, or at least hope, that God is more inclusive than they were giving God credit for.
To put it in Christian terms, wisdom is what forms us to be more like Jesus, who, as the apostle Paul put it, became for us wisdom from God (1 Cor. 1: 30). Shepherding us toward wisdom, kicking and screaming if need be: that is the Bible’s purpose.
Trust like this is an affront to reason, the control our egos crave. Which is precisely the point. Trust does not work because we have captured God in our minds. It works regardless of the fact that, at the end of the day, we finally learn that we can’t.
The focus moves from ourselves to God, in whom we trust—what Jesus calls “dying” and “losing” our lives.
The need for certainty is sin because it works off of fear and limits God to our mental images. And God does not like being boxed in. By definition, God can’t be. I believe we are prone to forget that.
We are told that, in response to this promise, Abraham “believed the LORD” (Genesis 15: 6)—which is the first place in the Bible where believing comes up. Believe in the original Hebrew of this story is ‘aman (ah-MAHN), which has made its way into English, and we all know it as amen—only, it’s not a social cue that we’re done praying, and it’s okay to open our eyes and dig in. Amen as the final word of a prayer is a declaration of trust: “We’re done talking now, Lord. We’ve said our peace and put this matter into your hands. Now we trust you with it.”