Both sets of my Grandparents were young adults during the Great Depression. Those events were formative for them, living through those times shaped their attitudes and behaviors. I have seen reactions from some folks as old timers tell their stories, they roll their eyes and stop listening. I have always, been a history person, a story person so I have often very much enjoyed these stories.
I remember sitting in Grandma Glesne’s apartment some months after Grandpa had died and I she told me a story about her life just before they were married. She was at home with her mom and sister Margret and things were so finically tight that there were times when they had to gather and burn cow pie’s to help heat their home during the brutal Minnesota winter. Then she looked aside out the window and said, I have now lived to see man walking on the moon.
At the time it seemed a bit of an odd conversation, but I have taken a couple things away from that time with her. The first is that things were bad, really bad, and I was and am fortunate never to have had things quite so rough. The second was one of great hope. In her lifetime, she had gone from burning cow pies for heat, to living in a comfortable home and chatting with her grandson who was like his father before him, able to go to college.
Today Joel is bemoaning a plague of locust that had devastated the land. His admonition is to remember, to tell this story to your children, and then again to the next generation. The purpose of recounting this story is not to make angsty teenagers roll their eyes, but that this is a part of a larger story that needs to be remembered, part of the story of sin and judgment, and ultimately one of redemption, provision and hope. Oh, it takes Joel a while to get there, just like the telling of an old family tale, but he will get there! Sometimes in the working out of our stories there are these moments of lament, of deep and difficult times, of struggles with sin, death, and the devil, but the book of Joel, and the breadth of scripture remind us over and over again that this is not the whole story. God is faithful, and God will restore and new things will be done.