On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.* There is nothing that will shake a person like the possibility of their own death. Yet, it is a fact that we will all die. The only difference between us and the person diagnosed with a terminal illness is that they have a better idea of when it will happen. Death, the final frontier, is man’s most terrifying enemy. We have spent countless dollars on age defying surgeries, medications and creams to slow the process down. Every other day, a new food is discovered that will lengthen our life span and allow us to live fuller lives. All of these efforts in the end turn out to be futile because in the past 200,000 years of man’s existence every life has ended with death.
A harsh reality hits us when we face our own mortality. Everything we have and work for loses its stability and comfort when we realize that we can lose it all in a moment. For a godless person, death is
a terrible fate. It is only those who hope that can die peacefully. When Jonah was sent to Ninevah, he gave the city a death sentence. “Yet forty days, and Nin’eveh shall be overthrown!” There was no hope in his cry and if Ninevah had truly been a godless city, it would have sunk in despair. Yet that was not their fate. In the First Qiryana/Reading of the prayers for Tuesday of Ba’utha we read:
He showed them their medicine, those with sharp and bitter taste.
And his cries were thundering, and cut through hearts like a sword.
So God’s grace, for this purpose, had sent the prophet to them:
Not to overturn their land, but rather to heal their wounds.
But the preacher did not tell; Ninevites they should repent.
Thus he showed to all who mourn, that they should go aid themselves.
He locked the door in their face, to show how hard they should knock.
The judgment that Jonah made, had the opposite effect.
Let us too look to the example of Ninevah. In recognizing their own frail mortality, they were able to admit their need for God and repented. Just as Ninevah was stunned by the cries of Jonah we too should be stunned by the cries of our own conscience. Like the Ninevites, let us draw near to God and find in him our true repentance. In this way, we can see from Jonah that;
Thus he showed how penitence, has the power to save all.
And how much the penitent, can gain mercy with boldness.
*Quote taken from Fight Club.
For more information on Ba’utha as well as obtaining the text and audio of the prayer services, visit the following: