Joel 2:25a - I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten
You may be familiar with this verse from the book of Joel. In fact, if you’ve been in church for any length of time, you have probably heard a sermon or two based on this verse. It probably went something like this:
- There have been hard years in your life – could be from sin or natural events – such as illness – but the trial is long and hard.
- God will restore those lost years and make it new.
What a wonderful, redemptive picture. Our hard times are not hopeless or wasted. With repentance comes restoration in the case of sin. With trials, comes growth, hope and promise for the future. These years are not wasted. Amazing and so encouraging.
But as I have been pondering what these restored years may be like, I realize restoration does not give those years back or even make it exactly as it was before.
The Old Testament book of Job gives a great picture of restoration following intense trial. Job lost everything. His wealth and health were gone, and his children were dead. Yet, he continued to believe and trust God. By the end of the story, we see God’s restoration at work. His health and wealth have been regained and he once again has children by his side. A happy ever after story, right? Yes and no. You see, there were still graves of his older children. I’m sure there where days where, even though surrounded by his younger children and all the wonderful provisions God had restored, he wondered what it would be like if all of his children were still alive.
I think you could compare it to restoring an older home. Picture a family in 1920 moving into their new home. It is amazing. Everything is up-to-date. It will meet their needs so well. Now, picture a family in 2015 who are moving into that same house. Nothing has been done to it 95 years but thishas a plan. They want to restore the home. If they restored it too exactly as it was when it was finished in 1920, it still would not meet the needs of a 2015 family. I think most of us appreciate electricity, indoor plumbing, dishwashers, laundry facilities…you get the idea. Restoring this 1920 home to its original condition would be missing a few necessities we take for granted in modern homes. Restoration to 2015 would include some changes. Frankly, I think most of us would agree these changes are improvements!
God’s restoration of the years destroyed by the locusts are much the same. Like Job’s experience, it may look similar but it may be very different. Maybe, like me, you are grieving the loss of a spouse. It is easy to think that if God is going to restore these years of illness and sorrow, it will come with a new spouse and things will get back to normal. Or maybe you are in the midst of financial difficulties due to a lost job and assume as soon as you find that perfect, new job all will be back to normal. Although the restoration may look very similar to the previous years, it will be much different. I know I am not the same person I was prior to my husband’s cancer diagnosis and death. Like the restoration of the old home, how God chooses to meet my future restoration will most likely be very different than what my past looked like. I do not know what the years ahead will be but I do know God has a plan for my life that will make it perfect for that time – not perfect for the past because but perfect for now. Those years of illness and grief will be rebuilt with new hope and new promise as He continues to work in my life.