It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, when we are comparable to the angels. For these 26 hours, we can reach the heights of spirituality and cleanse ourselves of all past wrongdoing. As we celebrate our utterly indestructible relationship with G‑d, we can recharge our spiritual batteries for the coming year.

As the day progresses, the realization dawns: the month of Elul, when G‑d is so near, is long gone; the Ten Days of Repentance are mostly behind us; and now, much of this awesome day, this once-a-year-opportunity, has also passed.

And yet, as we watch the sun start to set, rather than the stirrings of our soul, we hear the strong grumblings of our stomach and feel the throbbing pain in our head. A sense of intense disappointment sets in with the realization that we haven’t even begun to achieve what we were meant to.

With these disheartening thoughts, we slowly drag ourselves back to shul. Our hearts are heavy as we read the familiar story from the book of Jonah.

G‑d commanded the prophet Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh, an enemy of Israel, and warn of its imminent destruction due to the iniquitous behavior of its inhabitants. Aware that if he succeeds and the people repent, Nineveh would continue to pose a threat to his nation, Jonah tries to escape his mission. He boards a ship and when a storm brews, he is thrown into the sea and swallowed by a huge fish. Eventually, Jonah realizes that he can’t escape his destiny and travels to Nineveh, where the people hearken to his prophecy and wholeheartedly change their ways.

A despondent Jonah resting under a dying tree hears G‑d address him: “You are sorry for the plant for which you have neither labored, nor made grow . . . shall I not then, spare Nineveh, the great city, wherein more than 12 times 10,000 people live . . .?”

Jonah’s story teaches us that no one can escape from G‑d or the mission He has for us.

But why do we read this particular story—about a nation that was an enemy of the Jewish people—on Yom Kippur, a day that represents the intimate, indestructible bond between the Jewish soul and G‑d?

As the sun fades and our chance slips away, perhaps this is precisely the reassurance that we need to hear: G‑d cares about all people, even a sinning nation threatening His children. No matter how low we have fallen, G‑d gives us another opportunity. To the bottom of the ocean floor, to the depths of a fish’s belly, G‑d coaxes us to come closer and try harder.

No one is too far gone. Each and every one of us is important. G‑d will not give up until we hear His message and better our ways.