And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten… Joel 2:25 (KJV)
Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, life has no fast forwards or instant rewinds. There’s no way we can reach back into painful or unsuccessful eras of our lives and redo them. And we can’t wish away the present into the bliss of utopia.
I know folks who are contemplating making major changes to their lives because of disappointment or ending of a life season. One has been treated badly by family members; others are yearning for adventure and new horizons. The ones who are burdened with regret are suffering most. They just want to start over.
The children of Israel had lived one of the most checkered existences of any nation in their on again-off again relationship with their God who had promised, blessed, sustained, rescued, established, and prospered them. Through the times of the judges, they typically followed God’s laws, but in between everybody did what he wanted to do. (A bit like today.) When they had kings, they followed God if the king did.
Finally, God had enough, and the country divided. The northern kingdom eventually went into exile, and the southern kingdom followed within a generation. The prophet Joel warned the Israelites of coming judgment for their disobedience and urged them to repent. Finally, he reminds them of God’s mercy and faithfulness when they return to him. God will restore what has been eaten, Joel says.
What incredible news. Those damaged places in their lives and ours that we’d rather forget or paste over, when surrendered to God in repentance, can be restored, and we can be freed. Not my word – God’s. When we’re tempted to think that the past can’t be undone, we must remember these powerful words: God will restore. Just as with prayer, God will restore in his way, his time, and according to his will.
It’s a promise. Bank on it. We can start over.
Father, in the middle of the stresses in our world today, there is Good News with you. Take our past failures and sins, our brokenness and pain, and heal us, restore us, and set us free. We ask this for your glory and in your powerful name. AMEN.