Scripture: Joel 2:21-27
Key verses: (21-22)
21 Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
22 Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
Reflection: I always love it when scripture tells us not to fear or “do not be afraid” as it often teaches. The words sound so easy and yet the action of setting aside our fear is such a challenge. In order to not be afraid, we have to know the root of our pain, which is often the hardest part. Accepting what causes our fear, acknowledging it and then deciding to continue on anyway. When I read these words in the bible, “do not fear,” I am reminded that it’s not necessarily a call to not be afraid – that would be disingenuous – but it’s a call to not let fear run our lives.
In our passage for today, the prophet Joel remembers a terrible plague of swarming locusts that descended and destroyed. Joel asks the Israelite’s not to be afraid but instead to look around at all that is, to see the green pastures and the fig trees that are full of figs. This might seem to us like a call to ignore what has been hard and look to the positive, asking the reader to choose happiness over despair.
Instead, the author of Joel wants us to hold these two things together. We are asked not to let fear and sadness rule our lives and at the same time to notice our surroundings. We don’t have to choose between one emotion but rather to allow ourselves to experience both. We hold these two realities to be true. This is our call as Christians – to live in our current world, full of complex human emotions and outcomes and to look ahead to the world to come, promised through Jesus Christ. What a call this is! May we learn to not let fear rule our lives and remember to notice our surroundings in the midst of it all.
Prayer: Merciful God, who knows the breadth of human emotion. Help us to acknowledge and minimize our fear. Teach us to stop and notice our surroundings. Lead us in the way of truth and light, by the power of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Author: Savannah Demuynck
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].