Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the book of Joel. In all honesty, I haven’t read the book much in my life. Sure I studied it in undergrad and in seminary, but passed it over as quickly as it came. I was lead to the book during my daily devotionals and found the book really profound. There is a lot of tension in the book of the “all ready/ not yet” coming of the kingdom of God.
The book of Joel reminds me of the coming of the Day of the Lord —a time when “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). God will judge all the injustice of the world first for the Jew and then for the gentile. After that great and terrible day, God will make His home with His people. God will get ride of every sadness and there will be no more death, sickness, racism, killing, or lying (Rev 21:4). But sometimes that day seems far away.
I remember when Laura was giving brith to Nicolas here in Bolivia in 2015. I remember holding her hand as the life was draining from her because the doctors couldn’t stop her bleeding. I thought these were my last moments with her. I prayed to the Lord of heaven and He answered me. I begged God for her life and he delivered. God spared the life of my wife miraculously. The doctor still can’t explain it to this day. But since then, my wife has had all kinds of different medical problems. Yes God did a miracle, but did he provide only to allow her to suffer more?
I think about all the miraculous things Jesus did…. healing people and raising them from the dead. Yet, after their encounter with Jesus we don’t know how the rest of they life flowed. Surely there were moments of discouragement, perhaps sickness again and eventual death. Didn’t even Lazarus who Jesus raised to life, eventually die again? So even thought we see healing, the ultimate healing hasn’t taken place yet.
So now in our life, we see small glimpses of the kingdom of God. We see God changing people’s lives. We see addicts becoming clean. Marriages being restored and people coming from death to life in Jesus. BUT, our world is far from perfect. The coronavirus continues to spread and devaste life. Sickness of all kinds continue all around the globe. Porn usage continues to destroy marriages. Racism destroys our communities and keeps us from the real joy of deep friendship and fellowship with brothers and sisters of many different kinds of ethnicities. Sin, Satan, and sickness have not yet been destroyed completely.
And the call of Joel the prophet ochos today. We should all repent. ” Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 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” (Joel 2:12-13). And the promise of God is when we turn away from our sin and the world, we will be saved. We are His sheep those whom he most certainly will redeem and he will welcome us into His Father’s house one day. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;( Jn 11:25).
And so we wait. We wait in the already, not yet. Even in the uncertainty in Bolivia of the pandemic which continues to kill more people we know… or the uncertainty of the looming civil unrest and possible war in October 2020… we wait patiently, committed to the task of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ until our last breath.