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. Joel 2:22-24
Here we are, at November 1st, and the holiday season has come around again. After a year of work, toil, and some mourning, we’re now in a fresh season of celebrating joy. But, as my Concordia points out, earlier in Joel, there was a threefold call to grief (see chapter 1, verses 5, 8, and 13). It called on Israel to grieve (to weep (from verse 5), to mourn (from verse 8), and to put on sackcloth (from verse 13). Now, we finish the year rejoicing in God’s blessings: what’s up with that whole see-saw order of things?
Well, if you think about it, that’s how things go. Or, as Frank Sinatra (or Willie Nelson) sang, “that’s life, or so they say.” Yet, in the case of Joel, we’re riding high in May after nearly being shot down in April (go listen to the song). God might just identify with that, because here, in Joel 2, he’s recording how He blesses us.
After the season of pestilence, when locust, war, division, and worse, have devastated us, God brings us into a time when we get to see how, instead of pestilence, He provides blessing after blessing. God blesses the crops, the workers, and the harvest. Where, before, we knew hardship and spiritual famine, now our plates are full, our pantries stocked, our cabinets full of new wine and new oil.
Sort of like the holidays leading up to Christmas, don’t you think? We can either make it all into a rat-race of drudgery, or we can do whatever God sets before us with joy and glad thanksgiving. Put off the grief; take up the joy.
Like last night. Halloween isn’t my thing, but I love handing out candy to the kids. At our new house, we ran out. It was fun, joyous even, to hand out big candy bars to happy children. You can keep all the scary stuff. I’m fine with spreading a little joy to excited kids dressed up for fun. In fact, since Halloween sort of kicks off the holiday season, you might even say it was joyous. Remember that in the days ahead, when the shopping, deadlines, and doom-criers try to steal your joy and keep you in grief.
For more reading: Leviticus 26:10, Numbers 16:14, 1 Kings 4:25, Psalm 33:21, Psalm 65:12, Joel 1:5-13, Amos 9:13, Zechariah 10:7, Malachi 3:10, James 5:7, Joel 2:25
Lord, I choose Your joy! Bless this season of joy just begun