National News and the Book of Joel

Minneopa Fall
Minnesota State Park

Reading through the Biblical book of Joel this morning, was like turning on the national news. Descriptions of land barren from lack of water, rivers drying up and fire consuming the land, brought images of today’s western United States.

As Joel prays that God will save the nation from disaster, my thoughts turned to Ukraine, fending off an unprovoked assault by Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s  lies justifying the war becoming  more obvious, even to people in Russia, with limited outside news coverage. Now he threatens the use of nuclear weapons, which would rain devastation on the earth.

Some days the Bible is ripe with world events. In the midst of national heartache, famine, drought and threats from a northern army, Joel urges Israel’s people to turn back to God.

“Even now,” declares the Lord,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for the Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13

Joel tells us that God promises healing and restoration as people return to faithfulness and ask God for mercy. Because God is ever ready to relent and turn back from harm.

Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine has sent my mind reeling to memories of the Cuban Missile crisis in October of 1962. We hung around our radios checking for updates, listening for a word of hope, as nuclear war loomed large over the world. Prayers for a peaceful resolution, instead of nuclear oblivion, circled the globe. I remember the collective relief we felt, when danger passed.

In 1962 the world stepped back from the brink and folly of nuclear war. As threats continue and people speculate about the probability Putin will launch such a weapon, I pray for peace in Ukraine, for changed hearts and for sanity to prevail. I pray our world will never again be subjected to a nuclear bomb set loose in war.