The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the Lord.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the Lord.
The fields are destroyed,
the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil languishes.
Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
wail, O vinedressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field has perished.
The vine dries up;
the fig tree languishes.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
all the trees of the field are dried up,
and gladness dries up
from the children of man. Joel 1:9-12 ESV
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV
There’s a very sad old Christmas song about a little boy that Santa Claus forgot. He had sent a note to Santa asking for some soldiers and a drum, but there was no Christmas at his house. Other boys got new toys, but he only had old, broken toys. At the end of the song we find out the reason for this. This little boy didn’t have a daddy, and that’s why there was no Christmas and no new toys for him. When there is no money, or when a very sad thing happens to a family, sometimes a happy holiday becomes a sad one, or perhaps the family won’t even try to celebrate.
The same things was happening to God’s people after the locusts came and destroyed all their crops. There was no grain and no olives. There were no grapes, figs, apples, or pomegranates. The priests were sad because the grain offering that they would usually get with olive oil to support their work wouldn’t be available. The people were sad because the harvest festivals they always looked forward to wouldn’t happen. Instead they would go hungry and wonder how they would get through the year without a good store of food. The people had to trade the happiness of the harvest for sadness and worry.
Times of sadness and mourning come to everyone, because our whole world is troubled by sin. As long as we live there will be problems and things that hurt us. Jesus came into our world to share in our sadness. He knows what it’s like to be sad, to hurt, and to have trouble. We can go to him with the things that worry us and know that he understands and cares about us. Jesus took all our sadness and hurt and sin and carried them to the cross with him. He paid the penalty for all our sins on the cross, so we can be sure that God forgives us and is always there to comfort us and help us. He might not always take our sorrows away, but he will give us the strength and hope we need to get through them.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking our sorrows on yourself and for hearing our prayers and helping us. Amen.