Don’t Fear the Past, Embrace the Promise

Today’s Reading : Joel 2:1-17

As a father, when I read the Bible and other literature, a part of me wants to figure out how I can relate this to my children or to others to help them to understand what the author is trying to relate. As I read Joel chapter 2, the most relatable scene would be that of the juxtaposition of a volcano and paradise.

Just a couple weeks ago, a friend and I were sitting and chatting. As we chatted we found ourselves quoting Disney movies. One of the movies was Moana. We talked about oceans and volcanoes. In Moana, the heroine is in search of a volcano and attempts to bring closure to the grief of the volcano. Moana finds the volcano, but so much grief and time has gone by that the volcano is now sunken into the ocean. Moana has this small piece of the volcano,the heart of the island “Hope”, and replaces the hope by faith and restores the volcano to paradise. The resolution of the story is the volcano and the terror that she was confronted with turns into paradise.

Joel 2:1-17

Blow a trumpet in Zion;

    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!

Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,

    for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,

a day of darkness and gloom,

    a day of clouds and thick darkness!

Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains

    a great and powerful people;

their like has never been before,

    nor will be again after them

    through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them,

    and behind them a flame burns.

The land is like the garden of Eden before them,

    but behind them a desolate wilderness,

    and nothing escapes them.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,

    and like war horses they run.

As with the rumbling of chariots,

    they leap on the tops of the mountains,

like the crackling of a flame of fire

    devouring the stubble,

like a powerful army

    drawn up for battle.

In chapter 2 of Joel,  imagine a volcano erupts and takes over the island. The volcano eruption is not planned and it cannot be hindered. The complete demolition of the island is inevitable and there is no hiding. You have to evacuate. The people are not safe. The houses are not safe. The island is not safe. 

The sky turns black, the army and enemies of the people are chasing down the mountain synonymous with the lava flowing down the mountain and nothing can stop it. But in the resolution,  God shows paradise in the promise that we have available to us. And this is not a promise that is hinged on something that we have to do, but it is a promise that God gives us.

Joel 2 :12 – 13

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,

  “return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;


    and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the Lord your God,

    for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

    and he relents over disaster.

In this passage I believe Joel is trying to convey that we should not fear the past or what things may come. But we should hold onto the promise which God has given us. In this passage Joel outlines what God has promised for us in the midst of the potential for danger and for fear.

This particular passage resonates with me currently because of the past years that my family has experienced. We have had so many hard times in the past year that we can get overwhelmed with the thoughts of the past year, five years, even ten years. If we have remained in these memories, we would not be able to see the goodness that God has given us in the midst of the tears. Last year, Ollie had some major seizures and health conditions. Four years ago, our friend almost died while giving birth to her daughter. Six years ago, Oliver had a three-week stent in the hospital with major surgery and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Seven years ago, Nadya was baptized. Eight years ago, Ruby was baptized. Ten years ago, Oliver was hospitalized for three weeks and diagnosed with a milk protein allergy. Ten years ago, Oliver was baptized.

But today we are experiencing the promise of God: healthy children, our friend is celebrating her daughter’s fourth birthday. The kids are playing and each night I am able to kiss them goodnight and tuck them in. I don’t take these for granted. I smile with tears flowing knowing that I am experiencing the goodness and grace of the promise. We know what we have experienced, but I cherish the expectation of the promise.

Be blessed.