What are the things that trouble you today? Take a moment to name them before God. Then put them to one side.
Read Joel 2:12-27
 “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.  Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.  Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.  Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. 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.  “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely he has done great things!  Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. 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. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does the Lord require us to do (12)?
Just note where Joel’s attention is focused in this passage–and where the people’s attention should be focused. Yesterday we saw how truly awful the conquering army is. But the people are not to look at their enemy, but to their God. The whole nation, young and old, priests and people, are to come together to “rend their hearts,” to fast and to pray–and to pray in particular that the Lord’s reputation may not suffer amongst Israel’s neighbors (17). But why should the people fast and pray? Because nothing is fixed and inevitable. Disaster can be averted because everything depends not upon the invading army but upon Israel’s good God. If the people truly turn to him there is every possibility that things will change. They can rely absolutely upon the fact that the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (13). Just like the people of Israel, we are not in the hands of blind fate, but of our good God who loves us and wants the best for us.
Israel’s God is our God, too, and in times of trouble there is nothing better than to put our trust in him.
Gracious God, Your grace is beyond understanding, and so is Your compassion. I fall to my knees in gratitude.