The thing about a global pandemic is that everyone in some way has been impacted. Everyone, to greater or lesser extents, has suffered some level of loss. Maybe that’s why this promise so easily transcends the context of Joel’s specific prophecy and seems to be a promise to claim today.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten . . .
(Joel 2:25a ESV)
Some have been devastated by 2020. Not totally unlike the unprecedented devastation of Joel’s day that had been experienced in Judah under the mighty hand of God’s judgment.
What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.
(Joel 1:4 ESV)
I’m no bug expert. Couldn’t pick out one locust from another in a line up. But I am getting the imagery here — Judah got hammered with wave after wave of compounding disaster. Playing the image out, you can almost hear them looking out over their ravaged land and asking, “What more could go wrong?” And then, bam! Another visitation of lunching locusts.
Hasn’t 2020 felt that way at times? Though not everyone has been ravaged — to be sure, the “loss” I’ve suffered is so minor compared to others — everyone has suffered some loss and experienced some sense of things just piling on. Everyone has been visited by at least some wave of locusts taking away what once was taken for granted. At the very least, who even knew that “shelter in place” was a thing a year ago? For many, personal isolation has been compounded by celebrations that didn’t get celebrated, deaths that didn’t get memorialized, and family gatherings where no one gathered. For others still, the next wave of locusts has been experienced through jobs lost, saving accounts drained, and businesses bankrupted. And for those who have known the worst of the waves, as if everything else weren’t enough, they’ve had to deal with the loss of life within their closest circles.
For some the locusts have eaten a lot in 2020. For others of us, if we’re real about it, they’ve just nibbled at the edges. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve all suffered hardship and loss in some manner. And so, I’m thinking, we need the promise.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.
Not gonna lie, I kind of cringe as I read of “years” of swarming locusts. I’m done after nine months of being nibbled on. But as a believer I’m comforted and encouraged because I know that my God is in the restoration business. And while I’d like some of that business here and now, I am guaranteed it, in all its unimaginable fullness, there and then. And the promise of restoration goes a long way towards enduring whatever our degree of desolation.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
(Joel 2:26 ESV)
Press on weary saint. Whether your loss is little or much, your God is great, and your hope is sure.
He will restore what the locust have eaten.
By His grace. For His glory.