The Years the Locusts have Eaten

Bible Reading: Joel 1; 2; 3

An army of locusts swarmed over Judah and completely devastated their crops and food supplies. The prophet Joel drew a spiritual parallel and urged the Israelites to repent of their spiritual apathy and return their hearts to the Lord.

What are some of the locusts that have invaded our lives, leaving us devastated and disillusioned? An unhappy marriage, physical or emotional abuse, serious illness or injury, infertility, unstable employment, financial disaster, unresolved guilt over past mistakes, enslavement to an addiction, a wayward child, broken relationships, shattered dreams...?

What have they eaten away? Love, hope, joy, confidence, security, health, strength, peace, spiritual zeal.... "All joy has withered with them" (1:12b LB).

My hope and joy were once eaten away by the locusts in my life. As I faced my desolate wasteland, God called me to repentance and rededication. He asked for an offering of brokenness. He urged me to turn my heart and mind from other distractions and to feast on his love and goodness. "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing" (2:12-14).

When I returned to the Lord with all my heart, I found him to be "gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (2:13). God waited for me to turn to him in surrender so that he could turn to me in mercy. He desired to leave behind a blessing, not a tragedy. When I yielded to him, he began to rebuild my life and restore the things that were eaten away. He gave me new hope: "I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn" (2:19). He replaced my dry, barren spirit with deep springs of joy and refreshment in his presence. "Be glad... rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before" (2:23).

God began to repay me for all the years the locusts had eaten. He gave me a reason to praise and trust him. "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you…. Then you will know that I am in [Champlin], that I am the Lord your God" (2:25-27).

And there's more! "Afterward I will pour out my Spirit on everyone: your sons and daughters will proclaim my message..." (2:28 TEV). God will give deliverance to me, a survivor (2:32)! He will restore my "fortune" and will bring justice to those who tried to destroy me (3:1-8). I will praise the name of the Lord my God, who has worked wonders for me!