Joel says our God is a god who “relents from sending calamity”. Calamities in other versions reads: sending disaster, evil, punishment and chastisement. We learn from this verse two things: God does at times plan punishment or sudden disaster. We also learn from the verse that there are times that he “relents” or loosely translated, he is “willing to change his mind”. This is good news! We can ask that God would relent from sending calamities to us.
Joel reminded his people of this and reminds us as well. I also find it interesting that this week’s memory verse includes the word “calamity”. In this case, it tells us we will experience calamities. We are told in 2 Cor. 12:10, that Paul somehow was able to be content, for the sake of Christ, when he had to go through calamities. He was able to do this because he trusted and knew he would be made strong through them.
God can use calamities in our lives to strengthen us, and He can also decide to protect us from experiencing calamities. Either way, it will always be His decision. So, what part do we play?
This is where we can invest our energy in the first part of today’s verse and in Paul’s words. Rend our hearts-return to God from the heart, in those areas we have wandered. Look at where sin has crept into our lives. Repent of it. Do everything possible to turn away from it in the hopes of God relenting from the punishment and consequences those sins may incur otherwise. When the calamities come upon us and have not been avoided, we are to hang onto God. Using every ounce of faith we have, trust that while we absolutely may not understand the “why”, He has chosen this path for us to strengthen us-despite all that we see, know and feel. We can still fully trust Him.