Monday, March 03, 2014

Residing in Hope

"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 relent
and leave behind a blessing -
grain offerings and drink offerings 
for the LORD your God.


Let them say, "Spare Your people, LORD.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
"Where is their God?"

Then the LORD was jealous for His land 
and took pity on His people.

The LORD replied to them:

"I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you 
an object of scorn to the nations."


Surely the LORD has done great things!
Do not be afraid you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for He has given you the autumn rains
because He is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before
The threshing floors will be filled with grain; 
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm-
My great army that I sent among you.
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;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God.
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.

"And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old me will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out My Spirit in those days."

Joel 2: 12-14, 17b-29

Ok.  That was a long passage, and I'm sure it probably wasn't as powerful and important to you as it was for me.  But this is my blog, and this is a passage that resounded in my heart and motivated me to unhook my computer from various cords so I could move it to put on my lap so I could type up a blog.  As I am usually not so motivated, it is a powerful passage indeed.

Granted, God's Word is always powerful, but there are times when it hits you right when you need it.

And I needed this.  

According to Chapter one, Israel is about to, or has been, attacked by an army of locusts and drought that threatened to devour everything, leaving nothing for the people and wild animals.  Why this army is being sent, what Israel has done or not done are not specifically pointed out.  But there is suffering.  There is hunger.  Probably some panic.

Where I am in my life right now, I can totally relate.  The "army of locusts" had not yet arrived in full force, but the forerunners have been around for a while, eating away at my life, little by little.  Money, time, spirit all slowly eaten away, leaving pain and nausea and hunger behind.  Some of my problems are totally my fault.  Bad decisions, poor management.  But others are out of my control.  That's life.

As much as I look back and try to figure out if I had done things differently, would my life be easier now, I can't actually know.  Until God tells me, I won't know why or for what purpose this time in my life is for.

But in the suffering of His people, God grants us an option: whether we are slaves in the desert, sinners in the city, or victims of nature's armies...  He calls us.  He calls us to Himself.  And He takes pity on us.  Our cries have the power to move the Heart of God into compassion.  The rending of our hearts spurs Him into action on our behalf.  Our tears induce miracles, transforming curses into blessings.

Our suffering gives birth to Hope.

How beautiful.  How encouraging.  

Just what I needed to hear.

I may currently be in a season of heart rending, mourning and tears.  The locusts may be gathering in front of my doors.  I may have more understanding of hunger than I would like.

But it doesn't end here.

There is a season after this.

God, in His goodness, will come and will over turn my curses into abundant blessings.  It is not a question of if, merely when.

And in the meantime, this can be a Holy season, if I allow it.  As long as my heart is before the LORD, He will watch over it, and shape it to His design.

There is much I can't see and understand, but that is not necessary for my Hope.  There are many possible futures before me, ones I can see and others I can't.  Which one will become my reality, I can only guess.  And wait.  Wait for the LORD.

Wait for Him to rescue me, to take away my shame, for it never to return.

I am a daughter of the Most High, and even when I am low, He will never forget me nor forsake me.

It's almost spring.  Just a little more waiting.  Living each day, relying on Hope.

God is Good.

Hope is sustaining me.

It's all going to be ok.

It's a promise.