“‘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… ‘The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.'” Joel 2:12-13,24-25
Merciful relenting, anger that is slow but abounds in unshakeable love, abundance and restoration– these seem confusing promises and absolute impossibilities to us when the locusts have eaten away everything, when we see the devastation of wildfires, the ruin of a marriage, brokenness of families and friendships and ravaged bodies. But though we cannot understand how, or know when, these are what God is able to do, and does.
“‘You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. 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 2:26,27) In God’s providence, in His eternal plan and economy, this restoration is brought about not that we fall back on comfort and plenty for our own sake, or depend on physical rehabilitation or replacement or a new start, but that we may recognize the Redeemer, know the Giver, and praise Him. He restores right desires, He redeems passions of the heart and flesh, He redirects life aims, He heals the wounded and ailing, He rebuilds what we have willingly or unknowingly ruined in relationships. We may never know the joy of full restoration in this life, yet we can know it is certain and is accomplished in His eternal scheme. We can take comfort. What a mighty Redeemer is He!
Great Restorer, You take notice of the ruin in our lives, and are able to repair the breaches and bring back to glad fruitfulness. Though flesh and heart may fail, You are the strength of our hearts and portion forever. Return all of me to You, and give me eyes to see in faith how beautifully and supernaturally You rebuild, in the now and for eternity, for Your grand purposes and glory. (Ruth 4:15; Isaiah 58:12; Psalm 73:26)