Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the betrothed of her youth. Joel 1:8
Picture what Joel is describing. Picture yourself weeping like a young woman pining for a lost love. Picture yourself as someone who is hurting so deeply that you walk around wearing torn burlap, refusing to be comforted as the tears pour out of you. Picture yourself as someone who lives and breathes grief, regret, and longing in every moment, grieving and regretting and longing for someone you once loved who is now gone forever.
You’ve lost your faith: the true love of your life. Grieve.
In ancient Israel, men and women were considered married in what we might call “engagement”. In our “modern” world, when men and women marry, they usually consummate the marriage not long after the ceremony (i.e. honeymoon). Not so in Old Testament Israel, where a man and a woman could be married and be legally married for awhile, weeks or months even, before making love. The best-known example of this is, of course, Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents. They were betrothed and considered married even though they had not consummated their relationship (and, on command from the angels, wouldn’t until after Jesus was born).
Now, picture the grief of a young woman who had been married but hadn’t known her husband yet because he had died. It’s a terrible tragedy to watch anyone grieve, old or young. We never really get over losing someone, even when they are a believer and go to be with the Lord. Their loss is acute, irreplaceable. We simply learn to live through it.
But I think it is toughest on the young, especially those who lose a spouse at such a young age. So much hope seems lost; unrealized promise, permanent incompleteness, physical yearning. Consider the lot of the lost love. How would you feel if you lost your faith in God?
Joel wants us to picture our endangered faith, our loss of faith in God, as something we’d grieve over like a young virgin widow would. He reminds us that our faith in the Lord should be the most valuable love we have, the deepest belief we could ever imagine. Joel said what he said to remind us that all we own in this world is gifts from God…and they pass away. Possessions will fail or fall away. Wealth and poverty both won’t last. People will die; all of us will die. Yet God is eternal and our faith in Him is as well…unless we let go of it. When that happens, if it means what it should, we should deeply mourn, like a virgin widow. What does faith mean to you?
For more reading: Isaiah 22:12, Amos 8:10, Joel 1:9
Oh Lord, You are the most important person in the world to me. Never leave me, never abandon me, I pray. All my devotion is to You.
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