“The LORD says, ‘I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.’” – Joel 2:25 NLT
The book of Joel speaks of a great locust plague that came upon the land. Joel 1:4 speaks of its severity, saying “What the crawling locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten; and what the hopping locust left, the stripping locust has eaten” (Amplified version). Have you ever felt like this? It starts with a single loss of some sort, and then it all seems to go downhill fast. Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, something else is taken away.
It’s devastating when loss is so complete. When loss comes in waves of succession, with the next wave more brutal than the last, we move quickly through disappointment and into depression. Hope is lost and we may start to employ very low expectations for our future as a coping mechanism to avoid further disappointment. But God doesn’t want us to end up here.
The Lord says through the prophet that he will give back to the people what was lost to the locusts. The original Hebrew word translated as “give back” here is shalam, which means to be completed or to end or to finish and make full again. God doesn’t just want to give us our stuff back. He wants to complete and close the chapter on a cycle of loss that we’ve experienced. In Luke 11:21-22 Jesus says, “For when a strong man like Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe—until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.” God is the Restorer. He sent Jesus to completely free us from the mechanism that perpetuates loss and to take back those things which were previously lost.
Now, it’s bad enough when loss comes as the result of someone else’s error or evil or when we perceive it to be a spiritual attack from the devil. But what about when it comes as a refinement from God himself? What happens when our need for character development moves the hand of God to refine us? In these times we need to remember that God has our best interests at heart. After the adjusting and refining is over, God promises to restore us. Just like an old car buff taking apart an entire antique car to lovingly clean and retune each and every part before putting it back together, the Lord will lovingly take us through the steps of restoration to faithfully bring us to a place of glory. He will give us back all that we’ve lost, making us full again and ending the season of perpetual loss.