As I work on this assignment, I can’t escape the fact that I am writing during the COVID-19 pandemic. I acknowledge this because it is both difficult and necessary for us to imagine better days ahead. In the midst of incalculable suffering and grief, hope persists. Creative use of technology and social media are bringing art to masses of people stuck at home. Medical personnel on the front lines are being thanked with nightly cheers, the gift of meals, and homemade masks.
The role of the prophet was to help the people see beyond the current devastation to a better future, one that was more just and inclusive of all people. We see this type of dream in Paul’s writing in Galatians 3:28 as well: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes living through tragic circumstances brings a clarity that inspires people to grasp a radically different future for the wider world.
Joel’s vision of abundance is a stark contrast to the widespread destruction the ancient Israelites have endured. The same community Joel gathered to weep and fast will now experience God’s spirit pouring out on all of them: young and old, sons and daughters, even those enslaved will experience the freedom God gives.
The ability to dream dreams and see visions comes from the hope God provides even—or especially—in the midst of traumatic events.
What dreams and visions of abundance is God giving you for our world? How can you be a part of God’s work in the world to bring these about?
God, grant me a vision of abundance, inclusion, and freedom that challenges and inspires me to action. Amen.