How Have You Been Cut Off?

The rhythms of work, school, and social time have been cut off or significantly altered due to social distancing mandates across the globe in the spring of 2020.

Some like me, have lost loved ones during this time . Sadly, due to travel restrictions we have been cut off from gathering with family and friends to celebrate and honor them in our usual way.

Facing an invisible enemy like Covid-19 that has the power to cut off our sense of normalcy is stirring myriads of feelings and reactions across the globe. Some are struggling with paranoia while others are expressing anger and rebellion.

How should we respond to feeling cut off from our sense of normalcy?

The first eight verses of the book of Joel purposefully sets the stage to get the reader’s or listener’s attention to the fact that their livelihood has been cut off. The LORD is speaking through Joel the prophet to the people of Judah. At first the verses are mostly describing the physical situation Judah is experiencing. Then the LORD turns to focus more on the people’s emotional response.

Verse nine draws our attention specifically to the emotional response of the priests who serve the LORD on behalf of the people of Judah.

ESV  Joel 1:9 The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.

What is the emotion expressed in Joel 1:9?

The priests are mourning that the grain and drink offerings have been cut off.  Joel is referring to the twice daily offerings that the LORD required of His people once they began settling the land He had prepared for them.

Read Deut 18:1-8 and Deut  26:1-15.

Why is mourning an appropriate emotional response for the priests?

The priests were from the tribe of Levi which was prohibited from receiving personal inheritance as the Israelites settled in the promised land. Instead, they were to partake of a portion of the required offerings brought to the LORD by all the other tribes.

With all vegetation destroyed by the locusts in Joel 1:4 that meant the twice daily grain and wine offerings were not being given by the people any longer. It also meant the livestock that was also supposed to be given to the Lord twice daily had nothing to graze on. Supplies to meet this requirement have disappeared and will not  be replaced until another crop can be sourced, planted and harvested.

A single planting of barley takes 60-70 days from seed to harvest from either a spring or fall planting.

This loss of food offerings alone is certainly a reason to be mourning. But the deeper reason for mourning by the priests is that they could no longer be in the LORD’s presence and do their job the way they had been instructed to do by the LORD himself. This is devastating for all of Israel.

So how should we respond to feeling cut off from our sense of normalcy today or in the future?

First, mourning or lamenting (Also see Joel 1:8) is an appropriate and called for response that the LORD expects of His people when circumstances take us by surprise or are extremely hard. The LORD truly desires for us to share our deepest hurts and longings with Him.

Possible activities to help process mourning:

  • Pray
  • Study Scripture
  • Journal
  • Listen to hymns or praise music
  • Call, write to, or visit (if able!) a friend, family member or trusted spiritual mentor
  • Spend time in nature
  • Other?

Secondly, as we move beyond the Old Testament into the New Testament we learn that Christ’s sacrificial death fulfilled and ended the need for these twice daily offerings referred to in Joel 1:9. (See Hebrews 10:1-22.)

During these challenging days of being cut off from our previous routines for work, school, and social times we are called to mourn our losses while remembering the assurances given us by our LORD. This is a healthy approach to any day’s circumstances.

As I have mourned the passing of my grandmother and the reality of not being able to be with my family this past week for her burial,  I have done all the above suggestions. Yes, there have been moments of “leakiness” both when I have been alone, and when around the few I can be physically with right now. This is appropriate and healthy. I would be concerned about myself if I were not a little “leaky” this week!

But there has also been times of laughter and joy remembering times spent around grandma’s farm table eating amazing food, hunting the new litter of kittens in the straw bales, doing crafts, and many other things.

I pray you gained some encouragement as you studied Joel 1:9 with me today. May you be assured that even when your emotions have plummeted like a rock to the bottom of the ocean, the LORD’s presence is with you and will sustain you.


Barbara Lynn

ESV  Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

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Vulnerable: Joel 1:7

Heartbreak: Joel 1:8

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