Sunday, January 1, 2017


“I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate… You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am Yahweh your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame.” - Joel 2:25a; 27 (HCSB)

Today in church our pastor spoke on this verse. I personally had never heard it before, but it is, I’m told, a common verse to hear as an encouragement. And an encouragement it is! When I think of the devastation left by locusts, I see fields upon fields entirely empty during harvest time. There was a lot of hard work put into that crop, and the fruit of it wasn’t enjoyed by the one who planted it; instead, it was stolen away on a whim. That would be incredibly frustrating.

What’s more is that the verse says that God will repay for the years that the locusts destroyed. This wasn’t a bad circumstance that happened once. This happened again, and again, and again. Hard work had gone to waste, and empty stomachs had to endure another difficult winter. This didn’t just impact the Israelites physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The helplessness of consistently losing all that you’ve strived for can take a huge toll on someone.

I can’t help but think of the years stolen away from orphans around the world. I’ve held the hand of the orphan, and I’ve seen the hardship they encounter. Yesterday, Dressember ended, and I think of all the years that have been stolen away from little girls and young women as they are subjected again and again to torture and rape. I look at the news, and I think of the years stolen away from families as they live out a nightmare of running from home because it is no longer safe, to a location far away and unknown — and often hostile to them.

I think of the years stolen away from my friends. Some of them have gone through trouble time and time again, and it just doesn’t seem like life ever gives them a break. The arguments at home, the pain of the past, the death of loved ones, and the addictions that demand more of them… these things and more steal away from the abundant life God desires us to have in Christ.

And yet, God tells us that if we return to Him with a broken and contrite heart, He will restore us. He will restore our lives and our homes and our marriages to what He originally intended them to be: beautiful and abundant. We just have to wait on Him.

During our worship in service today, we sang the song, “Days of Elijah,” and it took on a brand new light for me. It’s a song of celebration during the hard times. It’s a song of rejoicing in the storm. I anxiously cry out to God for those who I see are in trouble, and I want them to be saved from the locusts, because the trouble comes in wave after wave. And this song today gave me great hope and joy, reminding me that Jesus is going to come back and set our world to rights again.

“And though these are days of great trials,

of famine and darkness and sword,
still we are the voice in the desert, crying,
‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord!’
Behold He comes! riding on the clouds,
shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call!
So lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee,
and out of Zion's hill, salvation comes!” - Donnie McClurkin

May God restore the years stolen by the locusts in your own life as you seek Him in this new year. As always, remember to #LiveItLikeJesus.