I am certainly not alone in living with regret. We sometimes find ourselves in the middle of destruction and lament over years we cannot have back. Our plans crumble before us and we are left with the bitter emptiness of uncertainty and wasted time. We have poured so much of ourselves into what we thought God was doing only to be back once again at square one. Time continues to pass by as we long for so many things, for a future that seems just out of reach.
I never imagined that I would have to start all over at this point in my life in so many areas and that so many of my plans would have slipped through my fingers. I trust God, but at heart, I wonder how He could do something with all this destruction, rubble and seeming dust of my life.
Job was a man well acquainted with suffering. He initially seems to have it all; a great family, wealth and is tremendously blessed by God. His life suddenly takes a turn and he is faced with the loss of his children, wealth, health and has some pretty terrible friends. His life and everything he loved seemed to have turned to dust and slipped through his fingers overnight. Yet at the end of his story it says, “... the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the first” (Job 42:10). In the middle there seemed to be no hope and destruction, but God was able to still bless and restore even more than he lost.
In Joel 2:25 God says to His people,
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”
The people had suffered the tremendous loss of years of harvest. Their situation seemed hopeless beyond repair. I am sure beyond their practical loss of crops, their hearts were heavy at all the time and effort lost. It left them struggling to find any hope for the future. God was jealous for them and took pity on His people. He promises to bless them so overwhelmingly that it would be like restoring the years that had been lost.
I love the idea that God can restore so thoroughly and abundantly, that He can make up for the years of destruction. He can multiply what He is able to do through us so much so that it can make up for plans that have slipped through our fingers. He makes it so what we have left could be richer, fuller and better than the pain we have left behind. That God can take our most bleak looking places and fill them with his richness of life again.
Although we experience sadness and tears and pain, our God may be doing a work we can not yet see.
One of my favorite passages in the bible is Psalm 126. In verses 4 through 6 it says:
“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
The Negeb is a dessert that doesn’t get rain very often, but when it does everything bursts to life. They are taking their grief, pain and loss to God. They are sowing tears, weeping and waiting on Him. They are fully trusting He can take their dry dessert place full of sadness and breath life again. He can restore their fortunes, supply what they need in abundance to the point where they literally are shouting with Joy.
Only God truly knows what is ahead but I love the sweet promise of these verses. They have been anchors of hope when things look bleak and I wonder what God could do with what I have left. When I grieve the loss of years that pain, abuse and betrayal have taken from me, as well as many lost dreams. I am still very much in the middle, not sure yet what God will do. I know that God is good and worthy of my trust regardless of my circumstances.
My life may feel like rubble and dust, but it is dust at the feet of my Father.
What he could still do is beyond what I can comprehend from my very limited perspective. I know that He is not yet done. I anchor my hope in a God who is able to bless with such abundant grace that it can make up for my lost time. I can trust in His provision, timely gifts and ability to give back more than my losses in our second halves, dessert places, regrets and years of destruction.