From Despair To Hope
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...” Joel 2:25 (New International Version)
A devastation beyond imagining. A disaster of such proportions that it not only caused economic ruin but threatened the Israelites' livelihood...a locust plague.
“It may be like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them is a desolate wilderness.”
These locusts, described as short horned grasshoppers, breed rapidly under suitable conditions becoming gregarious and migratory. They may be carried hundreds of miles by winds, rapidly stripping fields and damaging crops. Flying at night with the wind, locusts may cover 300 miles. (The largest swarm covered 400 square miles comprising 40 billion insects.)
Their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the earth. “It seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in breadth were advancing with a slow, unresting progress.”
Locusts eat the equivalent of their own weight. A very small part of an average swarm ( or about one tonne of locusts) eats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2500 people. It is said that the Desert Locust has the potential to damage the livelihood of a tenth of the world's population. Certainly a disaster of major proportions!
We also face disastrous years that bring us to our knees. They come in many forms, perhaps in the death of a loved one, catastrophic illness, or the result of sin in our lives. Whatever our particular circumstances, God is not taken unawares. He knows our years, for He goes behind and before. And He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. But disasters often bring us back to an awareness of God as never before. They make us aware of our need for Him. God always manages, in His way, to bring good out of the bad.
And I believe God still often uses national disasters as a call to return to Him as He did in the days of Joel who writes in chapter 2, verses 12-14:
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
God in His mercy takes pity on us and graciously calls us back to His loving arms. We have His promise:
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten...
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.”
(Joel 2:25, 27 English Standard Version)
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Father in heaven, I pray that it does not take a disaster in our lives to bring us back to You. As individuals, and as a nation, may we recognize our need for You and return to the comfort and guidance of Your loving arms.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Joel 2:32 (English Standard Version)
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