Monday, October 21, 2013

Cry out!

Migratory Locust (from Pestproducts.com)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Joel 1:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the Lord your God,
And cry out to the Lord." Joel 1:14

Not much is known about the prophet Joel except that his father's name was Pethuel and that he prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah. And we know too that he wrote against the backdrop of overwhelming devaston.

Waves of locusts had swept over the land. In a matter of hours the countryside had been stripped of all greenery. They had even eaten the bark off the fig trees (Joel 1:7). Drought added to the ruination so that the planted seed shrivelled under clods, the seed grain was dried up (Joel 1:17), and orchards of every kind withered under the fire of the unrelenting sun (Joel 1:12).

Joel responded by calling the people, especially the priests and leaders, back to God. This was not for lackadaisical prayer, but for desperate pleading, fasting, and repentant praying: "...lament you priests, wail you who minister before the altar, come lie all night in sackcloth...consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; ...cry to the Lord" (Joel 1:13-14).

I have never gone through such a devastating time as Joel describes, though I can think of modern equivalents: acts-of-God-type tragedies perhaps, such as an earthquake, tornado, or personal trials like a house burning down or loved ones killed in an accident.

At such times you and I may feel like questioning God's goodness. We may be tempted to lash out in anger and confusion, and allow the event to make us bitter.

Or we could cry out to God. I can imagine myself, pouring out my grief and puzzlement, pleading for the trial to cease, begging for God's help to bear up and live through the practical and difficult day-to-day aspects of it. I hope I would view it too, as discipline, causing me to examine my life for areas where I needed to repent so that the tragedy would mature me and draw me closer to Him.

PRAYER: Dear God, it's easy for me to tell others to go to You in desperate times. But I wonder, would I do that with the vulnerability and humility that Joel describes? Please prepare me now for whatever I have yet to face, knowing that nothing can touch my life without Your permission, and that You are big enough to see me through it all. Amen.

MORE: Modern locust plagues

Plagues of locusts were not a phenomenon of only the ancient world. Locusts denuded much of Palestine's vegetation in 1915This Discovery Channel video has home video footage of a modern locust plague (bear with an advert or two before the video begins).



Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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