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Locusts: Why We Should Obey the Lord in Times of Devastation



Growing up Baptist, we were taught at a young age all about the plagues in Egypt. Bible characters cut out of felt were stuck on an easel as a visual aid in Sunday School. When we talked about the locusts, I always imagined disgusting bugs more like a cicada/flying cockroach hybrid. Especially since it was the eighth plague. The Egyptians had already suffered through blood, frogs, gnats, flies, boils and more, so locusts had to be horrid. When I found out that a locust was a grasshopper, I was quite disappointed, and then a little ashamed that I was an adult by the time I figured it out. I mean, in the realm of disgusting bugs, grasshoppers aren't high on the list. Doodlebugs, ladybugs, butterflies and fireflies are at the bottom of the list of disgusting bugs, and crickets and grasshoppers are right above all the cute bugs. Seriously, how much damage could a grasshopper do?

Then, I saw it for myself. Several years ago, we had a grasshopper infestation in our area. Those little suckers ate everything in my yard. Flowers, trees, leaves, grass--if it was alive, the grasshoppers ate it. I remember walking out to the back yard and wondering how in the world all those grasshoppers got there and how they had managed to eat so much vegetation. The tree in our back yard was eaten down to the bark. Then I knew the devastation locusts can cause, and some passages in the Bible took on new meaning.

At one point or another in our lives, we will be faced with devastation. It could be a natural disaster, or the loss of a child. A car wreck or a divorce. A parent dying or a job loss. The Bible never promises that we will be free from heartbreak and devastation, but it does tell us how to handle those moments where we're not sure if we will make it through.

The book of Joel tells of a devastated land with swarming locusts. People were dying from starvation as the locusts gorged themselves. Joel calls the wicked to repent and put on sackcloth to end the pestilence that has overcome the land. Joel implores the people to "'Return to the LORD your God,' Joel cried, 'for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.'" (Joel 2:13)

God is a just God, and He will punish sin. But at the same time, for those who repent and turn away from their sin, God offers restoration. I'm not saying every time we face a devastation that it is God's punishment for our sin. What I am saying is that when we face times of devastation, searching our hearts for sin helps lead us to the road of healing and restoration.

Joel 2:21 says, "Do not be afraid, land of Judah, be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!" In times of devastation, God calls us to be glad and rejoice. Many times, being glad and rejoicing is the last thing we want to do. I want to wallow in the pain. I want to cry. I want to be sad. I want to just stay in bed. But in Joel, when the people obey God, He restores the pastures, the trees, the vineyards. He brought rain. He brought the harvest.

Joel 2:25 goes on to say, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you...Then you will know...that I am the Lord your God." What an absolutely wonderful promise to us in times of devastation. Once God has brought us through a season of devastation, it makes it easier to face other trials and tribulations, because we know that God will heal us, He will restore us; He is the Lord my God.

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