Summary: Joel gives advice about how to handle a disaster. For him it was a swarm of locusts. Our day of disaster might involve terrorists attacking New York City, or the doctor telling us we have cancer. Either way, God’s Word gives us ways to deal with disast
Great Aunt Lucille died a few years ago. She was 101 years old. Whenever I would see her, she would tell me the story of her family – my family.
Now, she didn’t live through the Civil War, but her father did. And she would tell me the story of how all of his brothers died during that war. She would tell about how her father turned 15 years old – which in the last few months of the war was old enough to fight. But his family took him into the mountains of Virginia and hid him, determined not to lose this last child.
She would talk about how from time to time either the Union Army or the Confederate Army would come through. It didn’t matter which army went through, they would take the good horses and leave their tired old horses. The women of the family would have to cook for the soldiers. She could even tell you the food that was served.
She would often tell me about her Uncle John. He was the first of our family to die in the Civil War. She could go into great detail about how he was shot, and how he lingered painfully for three days.
If my father was in the room during this time, she would tell this part of the story with great bitterness.
You see, Great Aunt Lucille is from my mother’s side of the family and they all fought on the side of the Southern Confederacy. They refer to the Civil War as the War for Southern Independence, or the War Between the States, or – most commonly – simply as “THE war.”
But Dad’s side of the family fought for the North. I think Great Aunt Lucille always thought that my father’s ancestors were personally responsible for her Uncle John’s death.
I tape recorded these stories once. At the time she was 70 years old and we figured she wouldn’t live much longer so we’d better get the stories on tape. Ten years later video cameras were available and so we got her on video tape. And the stories are almost word for word the same – and remained the same until she died at age 101.
It’s amazing that she could remember these stories so well – because she did not live through the Civil War. But her father would tell these stories to her as she was growing up.
In our Old Testament lesson, Joel has lived through an event such as that. Something so destructive that he asks the elders of his community, “Have you ever lived through anything like this? Has there every been a day like this?”
So powerful and tragic is that moment that Joel lives through that he talks about how people will tell their children. And the children will tell their children. And their children’s children will pass it onto the next generation.
My great-grandfather was the only son of 10 to survive the Civil War. At the dinner table he would sometimes speak of that war to his children – including his daughter who was my Great Aunt Lucille. She told those stories to me.
There are those moments of history that are so powerful. So tragic. They must be told from generation to generation.
There are those experiences we have had – we’ve all lived through them, when we want to ask, “Has there ever been a day like this?” There are those experiences that we live through and we know the moment we endure it that it will be as the Prophet Joel said, you will “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” (Joel 1:3)
We’ve been where Joel was. Everyone of us here this morning has lived through some terrible events.
For some it was World War II, or Korea or Vietnam.
Perhaps you lived through the depression.
I suspect many of us have lived through tornadoes, earthquakes or blizzards.
It was only 10 years ago that Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida.
And, of course, it was only one year ago that we all lived through September 11th.
These are times like the event that Joel had lived through – you look around and say to yourself, as Joel did, “Has anything like this ever happened?”
You tell the story to your children, and they repeat it to their children.
For Great Aunt Lucille, it was the Civil War.
For all of us, it will be the War on Terror.
For Joel, it was a natural disaster of – well, let’s call it “biblical proportions.”
We are continuing our series on the Minor Prophets – the last 12 books of the Old Testament. We started with Hosea last week, and this week we take a look at Joel.