During a recent thunderstorm, the local weather station issued a “take cover” warning, as tornadoes were spotted in our area. My family and I retreated to the basement to wait out the storm. We didn’t know how long we would have to wait, but we passed the time recalling other storms we had experienced through the years. Thankfully, the storm passed without incident and the tornado warning was lifted.
Although we could have left the basement then, rushing back to whatever we were doing before, we didn’t. We lingered for a while instead. The drama of the threat pulled us together, and the comfort of being with one another kept us there.
Joel warns the people of a coming day of destruction, but instead of giving a timeframe for when to expect it, Joel gives them vivid imagery of how bad it’s going to be, saying, Sound the alarm… let all the inhabitants of the Lord tremble (v. 1).
Joel goes on to paint a frightening scene of people in anguish as they see their approaching doom. The call could have been for everyone to just save themselves, to hunker down in the nearest shelter as quickly as possible. Instead, Joel instructs the people to gather everyone together: the old, the children, the infants, the bride and bridegroom. This is not, in any way, a strategy to ward off the inevitable destruction, but to show them they will need each other to endure the coming crisis. At its best, the church offers a kind of togetherness that helps everyone—young and old and newlyweds—take comfort by drawing closer to one another and to God with us.
What experiences of church or community have helped you during hard times? Who has been a source of comfort to you?
God, you are with us in and through all our struggles. May we feel your presence in those who share the journey with us. Amen.