Crying Out

Have you been crying out?

  • What images leap to your mind when you read the words crying out?
  • Do you first think of sad or painful reasons for crying out?
  • Or do you first think of joyful or pleasurable reasons for crying out?
  • What is the purpose in crying out?

Over the last thirteen weeks we have been journeying a verse at a time through the first chapter of Joel.  Joel has announced himself as a prophet of God sent to wake up the inhabitants of Judah about their current circumstances.

We have read about locusts wreaking havoc on the agriculture productivity of Judah’s nation. The people and animals are without food to eat. Clearly, this is not a time of celebration but one of great mourning.

How should they respond?

ESV  Joel 1:14 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.

Joel is giving specific instructions for the spiritual leaders to have the people fast and gather together in verse 14.

Why would Joel tell the priests to fast at a time there is no food to be eaten anyway?

The key to this the type of fast that is called for.

Consecrating means dedicating something to a sacred purpose.

What is a solemn assembly?

Usually I think of solemn as referring to a gloomy or somber appearance or mood. Although it can be used in that way, the first two definitions listed of solemn are:

  • 1 : marked by the invocation of a religious sanction a solemn oath
  • 2 : marked by the observance of established form or ceremony specifically : celebrated with full liturgical ceremony

What is the point then in the opening sentence of this verse?

Joel, speaking on behalf of God, is once again attempting to wake up this community to see that there is a sacred purpose in their current circumstances. They are being asked to turn their gaze from the lack of physical food to seek holy sustenance instead.

What else does the Lord have Joel tell the community in this verse?

Everyone in the community, old to young, is to gather in the house of the LORD.

What are they to do once they have gathered?

They are to cry out to the LORD.

Why should they cry out to the LORD through a consecrated fast and solemn assembly?

Consider the following cross references for Joel 1:14:

  • ESV  2 Chronicles 20:3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
  • ESV  Jonah 3:8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
  • ESV  Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;
  • ESV  2 Chronicles 20:4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

What do you see in these four verses that helps you understand the actions called for in Joel 1:14?

I see that the community of Judah was being reminded they needed to humble themselves, repent from their sinful ways, and seek the LORD above all else because of their current circumstances.

Self-reliance is not the answer for Judah. Crying out to God is the first and most important thing they need to do.

How does Joel 1:14 help us today?

This past week had a very “leaky” day in it for me. First, I received news that a coworker who is battling a sudden appearance of cancer has been placed on hospice comfort care. Next, I learned my husband’s coworker had an unexpected death in his family. In addition, I discovered that my insurance had denied the past month’s physical therapy claims and that I may not be granted any more sessions even though I am still struggling with pain, numbness, and tingling.

This was just one day in a series of personal disappointments and challenges coupled with a time of state, national, and global distress over a pesky virus the last couple of months. Plus, numerous concerns and heartbreaks over circumstances friends, family or other coworkers are facing. Consequently,  I found myself saying, “I just want some good news for a change! I feel battle weary!”

Studying Joel 1:14 has reminded me that crying out to the Lord is the correct response in times of crisis and heartache. Seeking His counsel is what will bring me good news for a change! He is who I need to restore my strength to continue to do battle.

How can we take today’s circumstances and turn them into a consecrated fast and solemn assembly?

Although we are still restricted in how we can physically gather due to that pesky virus we can gather through phone calls and various other tech applications. We need to use these means to speak words of encouragement and share the good news of our faith to the world.

Are you feeling battle weary and wanting good news for a change as well? Or maybe you know someone who feels that way right now?

Crying out to the Lord is what you need to do for yourself and the ones you know as we each face our own unique circumstances and our shared ones too. Crying is a healthy and needed response.

ESV  Isaiah 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.


Barbara Lynn

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