I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
I sent your way.
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
You’ll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.”Joel 2:25-26 MSG
The last few years have been filled with storms.
There have been political storms and economic storms. Plagues and floods. Droughts and wildfires. Hurricanes and earthquakes. Some of these events are happening in increasingly alarming frequency, so much so that it can be tempting to succumb to what some call “climate doom.”
But that is not the promise God has for us.
No matter how grim the world may seem, the prophets remind us that there is always hope. The end of the story is not destruction but restoration. God doesn’t abandon us but casts a vision for our future, a collective vision composed of a full spectrum of light in colors we can’t even comprehend—shades of love, peace, joy, abundance, mercy, grace, goodness, truth, kindness, justice, righteousness, and wholeness.
We’ve collectively weathered several years of storms, some far away and some intimately close, but God promises that he will make up for the years of the locust. There is hope on the horizon.
“And that’s just the beginning,” writes Joel:
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters.
Your old men will dream,
your young men will see visions.”
As we launch into yet another new year, a year that will likely have its share of all kinds of storms, what would it look like for God’s people to lean into the Holy Spirit, to cast a different kind of vision? What if we were a people of God’s promise instead of cynics and doomsayers?
What if we looked forward into the near future and said, no matter what comes, we will call for God’s help. We will count God’s blessings in our lives. We will speak the truth about the state of our world and not forget the hope that we have, hope for cleaner air, clearer water, peaceful nations, justice that rolls like a river, righteousness that flows like a stream, love that is the greatest of all.
Let’s cast a vision for the future we want, and then run, run, run with all of our might in that direction.
There, when we arrive in the land of God’s abundance, we’ll rock back on our heels in wonder at all God managed to do, above and beyond our wildest, far-sighted vision.
Points of Reflection
- Think back to five years ago, or maybe even ten. What was the vision you had of your future? How did it change? How was it fulfilled?
- Are you generally pessimistic or optimistic about the future? How does the passage in Joel speak to your vision of the future?
For the Kids
- How do you think God’s Spirit speaks to people?
- What do you hope your future will be like?
In The Message paraphrase, Proverbs 29:18 says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” A more familiar translation, the King James Version, begins, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” All throughout Scripture, God promises that he is doing a new thing. We’re invited into it. We looked back over the last five to ten years in reflection; now, look ahead five to ten years. What are your hopes and vision for your life in five years? Ten years? What about your church community? What are your dreams for your family of faith? What would the best possible future look like for our country in five to ten years? Our planet? With vision and hope comes strategy, planning, and goals that help us move closer to the fulfillment of that vision. Align them with the love of Christ, and you are sure to succeed, even if the horizon stretches long in front of us.
Sometimes one of the best ways to pull yourself out of the weeds is to fly into the heavens and grab a 30,000 foot view of the world. It shows you that nothing is really new under the sun, which can inspire fresh hope: we’ve been here before and we survived. We can make it through this, too. The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam provides a sweeping overview of the last 120 years, highlighting trends in economics, civil rights, civic engagement, religion, and more to demonstrate the way entire societies shift from an individualistic culture to a culture of community. But he doesn’t just leave us in the clouds, feeling overwhelmed at what it takes to make these changes happen. He casts a vision by showing how it happened before: normal, everyday individuals taking small but courageous steps to make their world a better place.