Joel 2:25a; “And I will compensate (restore to) you the years that the swarming locust has eaten; the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust…”
Hello everyone! Rarely do I start with a Bible verse but Joel 2:25 has become one of my most important healing verses. It also has merit in the current circumstances we are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. You will see this verse again when I am writing about the end of the pandemic (yes there will be an end) but for now, and to give us something different to focus on (which we need); I want to tell you what I have learned from this verse for my personal life and healing journey. This verse is rich in meaning and goes far beyond the actual locust plagues of Joel’s day. Let’s begin.
What is a “Locust”
We’ve all lost things in this life, whether it be time, money, love, respect, confidence, or self-worth. We’ve all lost something or someone dear to us. The losses in this life represent what the “locusts” have eaten. These “locusts” are metaphors for the wrong decisions, wrong people, and wrong thoughts we have allowed in our lives. They can also represent bad circumstances that have nothing to do with us, like this global pandemic. All of these “locusts” have taken things from us or caused us to lose out somewhere in life. The Lord was very intentional in His use of the term “locust” because he knew that people would understand that locusts take what is not theirs to begin with and they leave little left standing in their wake. I know many of you reading this have been through such circumstances. Many have made decisions or aligned yourself with people who did this very thing to you. I know I have. I spent 5 years in a relationship with such a person, a “locust.” I also spent 25 years letting lies be the “locusts” in my life. I understand this well. I also now understand what type of “locusts” were in my life. Joel describes these four types of “locusts” that I want to unpack with you now.
The “Swarming Locust”
These are people or circumstances that come into our lives unannounced, unprovoked and uninvited. Our global pandemic is a good example of a swarming “locust.” People who are swarming “locusts” are usually those who swoop in to take revenge because of offense or some perceived wrong doing. This may come in the form of an unprovoked lawsuit or an unprovoked argument. Another example of a swarming “locust” could be a cancer diagnosis. No one is expecting that but when it comes, it hits us hard. You really won’t know what hit you because like an actual locust swarm, the situation or confrontation is sudden, harsh and devastating.
The Creeping “Locust”
The creeping “locusts” are those people or things that take their time manifesting as evil in our lives, yet all the while they are devouring. They get to know you well while devouring your life. An abusive relationship is a good example of this. A series of bad decisions that seemed good at the time you made them is another type of creeping “locust.” Creeping “locusts” are charmers and deceivers. An abuser charms you first and then they begin to devour you, little by little. The bad decisions that seemed good at the time, chip away little by little and devour your time, money, sense of accomplishment or even your self-worth. I was married to a creeping “locust.” He devoured my self-worth, money, confidence, and identity slowly and methodically. The lies I believed for 25 years were creeping “locusts.” They crept in, stayed, and devoured my self-work, confidence and identity for 25 years. My life at the time was a “field” ripe for the taking. The lies I had believed and the false vision I had of myself attracted my late husband, the abuser, to this same “field.” Creeping “locusts” attract other creeping “locusts.” Do not be deceived.
The Stripping “Locust”
The stripping “locust” is also a creeper but they don’t take as much time to do their damage. A stripping “locust” circumstance is one in which, much like a swarming “locust”, much is taken from you at once. For example, a woman divorcing an abusive partner could lose her home, her money and her children all in one night or over a few days. Another example of this is a person who has business dealing with dishonest people who take their money and leave without finishing a job or following through on agreed upon terms. Stripping “locusts” get in and get out. They are much like swarming “locusts” except they take the time to get to know you so they can maximize their take away.
The Gnawing “Locusts”
Finally, we arrive at the gnawing “locusts.” Gnawing locusts come to stay. They creep in and stay if we let them. I did this for 25 yeas with the lies I believed. The lies were “creepers” and “gnawers.” I wasted years letting them devour my purpose and my identity. Abusive people move into stay and gnaw us to death if we let them. I let my late husband stay about 4 years too long in my life. He too was a gnawing “locust.” Have you noticed how abusive people cross over the “locust” categories? Abusive people inflict a lot of damage in the short and long term, no matter how they come in our lives. They are indeed some of the locusts the Lord was speaking of, I have no doubt.
Now that we know what “locusts” come into our lives, I want to tell you the good news! “Locusts” have an expiration date! This is where restoration comes in! We can have life after “locusts!” We get to determine that expiration date and we get to participate in our restoration. I chose to let Jesus deal with the devouring lies in my life so I could be free and know the truth of who I really am. He got to sow the purpose and identity back into my life that had always been there, that the “locusts” had stolen. I chose to leave my abusive relationship and stop allowing that “locust” to gnaw on me, steal from me, and destroy me. I got to choose! Don’t you see how powerful that is? We get to choose! We have a choice about whether the “locusts” in or lives get to stay or not. And guess what? Even the “locusts” we don’t choose, like this pandemic, they also have an expiration date. They can’t devour forever. God won’t let them and He didn’t send them. America, there is light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel! There is an end coming to this swarm! There is restoration and years to be repaid by the Lord! The end has not come! The night will pass and bright will be the day!
My hope and prayer in this writing today is that it not only encourages us during these uncertain times, but that we will also choose to rid ourselves of the “locusts” in our own lives once and for all. The “locusts” don’t have the final say, not even the ones we didn’t choose!
Love and hope to you always,