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Today’s joy verses (which will come at the end) follow a lengthy description of a famine caused by locusts, and sandwiched in between are some verses that are most often associated with this season of Lent (Joel 2:12-13):

“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.

This is a tiny window on the Old Testament cycle. God’s people turn away from Him to follow their own ways of living. God gets their attention, often with some kind of disaster. The people repent, and God blesses them. And it starts all over again. I am so glad that I don’t have to live in that merry-go-round! Instead, God threw out the old covenant. He knew that His people couldn’t keep their side of it. He sent His Son to stop the cycle, to restore our relationship with Him, to make us His children for good. And though we still mess up, He forgives – not because we do something, but because of what Christ already did. God knew we could not be faithful, but He is faithful.

And there is joy for all of us now and in heaven, and I believe it looks a little like this (Joel 2:21-24):

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.