What is Essential?

How Do You Define What is Essential?

This past week a homeless gentleman came into my workplace and shared a bit of his story with me. This gentleman had spent the previous day sleeping in the rain and had no food or money. Have you considered how all the restrictions for COVID-19 have impacted those who may be homeless in your area? What about the non-profits in your area that help to meet the needs of the homeless such as soup kitchens and shelters?

A friend and coworker of mine is no longer at work due to battling a recent diagnosis of cancer. Have you considered what medical treatments one might normally receive are no longer deemed essential? Have you considered that people who are permitted to have a medical treatment may not be allowed to have a family member in the waiting room with them?

Have you struggled during the last few months to get what you deem essential for your daily life?

What is essential?

The definition of essential is something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable.

The residents of Judah in Joel’s day were faced with a significant deficit of items essential to life. Joel 1:10 vividly describes the seriousness of Judah’s situation after swarms of locusts attacked their area.

ESV  Joel 1:10 The fields are destroyed, the ground mourns, because the grain is destroyed, the wine dries up, the oil languishes.

Grain, wine, and oil were essential items in Judah’s ancient economy. These were the primary crops used for food, commerce, and holy sacrifices.

What does verse 10 say has happened to these essential items?

What does it mean when something has been destroyed?

One definition  is to ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of.

Another is to put out of existence.

In the previous verses of Joel, we have seen the LORD issuing a serious wake up call to the entire community. Here, even the land is personified as grieving the immense loss of life’s essentials.

What is your emotional response to the situation in Joel 1:10?

Are you currently in a similar situation or do you know someone who is?

Until I looked up the definition of languish, I was struggling to find a sense of hope in this verse.

Languish means to be or become feeble or weak.

Do you see the difference between the state of the oil versus the grain and wine?

The oil has become feeble or weak, but it has not been destroyed! This little gem leaps out of the verse to announce that hope still exists. The olive trees that produced the oil referred to are not completely ruined. This glimmer of a potential for recovery is sorely needed.

How can we apply this verse to our current situation?

Leading up to the time of this writing many of us had been instructed by our governments to only venture out of our homesteads to acquire essential items. There has been disagreement by governments and citizens on what is defined as an essential. Some people have protested either against current restrictions or in favor of more restrictions as to what is considered essential during COVID-19 challenges.

In some places restrictions on what we can do or acquire are beginning to be relaxed. Again, there are those who are protesting either for or against the proposed process to moving beyond access to what has been considered essential to resuming our previous norms for daily living.

Some people’s livelihoods have been decimated because of COVID-19. Some have lost their lives because of COVID-19. There is a great sense of despair and grief being experienced globally because of COVID-19.

Is there any hope to be found because of this global experience?

Just as Joel and the community of Judah were faced with an unprecedented challenge in the loss of their essentials for food, commerce and holy sacrifices we too are in a situation that is forcing many to reexamine what we previously considered essential. The way we have done life in the past is changing daily in myriad ways.

As you examine your personal response to the events of today, I pray you will seek out ways you can encourage others who may be worse off than you.

If you are struggling with grief, I pray you will inquire of the Lord to see things from His perspective instead of the media or your circumstances.

May the Lord restore to you the joy of His salvation and uphold you with a willing spirit! ( see Psalm 51).


Barbara Lynn

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