Read:

  • Joel 1:1-3:21

“The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” –Joel 3:16, ESV

It would be easy to take these chapters in Joel and pick out the happy verses, the flowing-with-milk verses, the verses that show the “after” of the judgment to come. We could skim right past the passage describing the locusts and draught Israel experienced because of her sin. We could fade out over that part, sing “la-la-la-la” until those verses pass, and then be skipping and cheerful about the verses we like better.

Here’s the thing: to fully appreciate how much of a refuge God truly is, we must look at the desolation and judgment to come. We cannot know the greatness of His mercy unless we understand the wretchedness of our own self and those around us. To understand the Stronghold that is our God, we must first understand why we need one.

Read these chapters again. And then pick out the happy verses. For those verses will shine all the more brightly when properly placed in the context of desolation.

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