“How great is his goodness!” (Zechariah 9:17)
Joel prophesied God’s judgment upon Judah through a plague of locusts that would devour all the trees and plants, resulting in widespread famine. Then, in the midst of a prophecy of restoration, God made the following promise: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25).
Consider the amazing generosity of God. He did not limit His promise merely to restoring the land to its former productivity. He said He’ll repay them for the years the locusts have eaten, years they themselves forfeited to the judgment of God. God could well have said, “I’ll restore your land to its former productivity, but too bad about those years you lost! They are gone forever. That’s the price you pay for your sin.” He would have been generous just to have restored them—but He went beyond that. He would cause their harvests to be so abundant they would recoup the losses from the years of famine. He said He’ll repay them, though He obviously owed them nothing.
From time to time I have opportunity to minister individually to people who in some way have really “blown it” in life. Usually these people lament their “lost” years, the years when they served sin instead of God, or years that were wasted as Christians. I try to encourage them about the grace of God. I cannot promise them God will restore those lost years as He did the Israelites, but I can assure them that it is God’s nature to be gracious. I encourage them to pray to this end and to realize, as they pray, that they are coming to a God who does not withhold His grace because of demerits.