Joel 2:23-32: An Abundance of Grace

Well, it’s now October and it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Between having a miscarriage and the journey of medical craziness with my dad’s tongue cancer since May, I feel as though I’ve walked through the fire and back. God’s been nudging me to pick up my Bible all this week, and this week I’ve been afraid of it. I’ve tiptoed around it and been fearful of what it’s going to tell me. Whenever I get this metaphysical feeling of dread about this wondrous book, I know God’s got something he wants to say…usually not something I want to hear.

It’s been awhile since I’ve followed the lectionary cycle, so I decided to pick back up again with it. Though I researched what the lectionary texts were at about 8:00 AM this morning, it took me until noon to actually work up the nerve to open the good book. It just sat there in front of me on the ottoman, while I then blogged about other things, including pictures and a restaurant review…And then, after writing for a few hours, well then I had to move furniture in the living room and then accidentally shorted out the circuit that powers the motem, computer and TV. And then finally a great voice within me said quietly…”Enough already. Either choose to hang out with me. Or don’t.” So, I stopped. Took a breath. Shakily grabbed my Bible, and opened to Joel 2:23-32. And the words followed from the page into my heart as though they’d been written just for me. Emotions overwhelming washed over.

“O children o Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord you God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

I am so profoundly grateful that my father has escaped his cancer battle alive thus far. Alive and able to speak and eat and thrive. I value the new relationship with him that walking through the fire together has forged. And in the dark time of staying up through the night with him, God has forged something else in me. A renewed sense of his presence and his promise.

And I’m currently walking through another dark time that I don’t know how God will work out, but I do have a sense that he is with me. This issue went on the back burner while the immediate issue of my dad’s well being took center stage. My dad is back on his own two feet now. And then, last week a well meaning friend brought up the issue of my miscarriage last May, and that set off a downward spiral into an issue I thought was water under the bridge. My husband and I are verging on four years of trying to get pregnant. Four years and 2 miscarriages. In a culture where one of the first questions we ask strangers is “so, do you have any kids?” I’m finding myself frequently full of shame as I try to answer this question. If you say simply no, then people press, “well, don’t you want kids?” Which then leads to more shame as I explain that our lack of children is not a lack of wanting – but an inability to get pregnant/stay pregnant. Which makes me feel less womanly, less whole, and more as though there is something wrong with me and maybe even with this God that I profess to believe in. And then if you’re more honest and throw out the whole truth or portions of the truth, then people feel the need to say “oh, you’re so young” or “you’ve got to quit trying so hard”. Which again causes shame and pain and awkwardness.

In my weakness, I want to read this passage as though God’s going to give me children to take away my sense of shame. I want to put my earthly definition of wholeness and satisfaction on the promise. God’s not allowing me that option this morning. The promise is that I will be made whole, made healthy – but in his version of healthy. Redeemed in relationship with Him. Discovering the abundance of grace that he has already poured out on me – most recently, the gift of my father. The gift of my father’s health. The gift of a new, deeper relationship with my dad. The gift of a husband who shows up and helps out without complaining through all this journey…staying up nights with me in the hospital, learning how to do things when I wasn’t ready (taking out the inner part of my dad’s trach and cleaning it). The gift of a God who promises all this misery is temporary. A day is coming when all this shame I carry will be gone. A day when He comes back, and we and all creation get to be made whole. When our world’s brokenness is mended, when games powerful men play will end, and wars will cease. And I’m still sitting here waiting. Hoping.

But, God’s here with me today. And I still believe He’s coming back, and that the embarrassment of today will fade in His presence.

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