Joel 2:25 “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten . . . “
Do you have any regrets in life? Are there things that you look back on that have affected your life negatively in huge ways – and things that you’d definitely do differently if you could go back – but you can’t and you know it, and it plagues you from time to time. I know that that has been my experience, and I also know that I’m not alone in this.
Thankfully, the Bible has given us many examples of this in the lives of people that we otherwise think of as great examples of faith and whose lives were greatly used by God. Peter is one such example. In his confidence, he pledged his allegiance to Christ no matter what, but then he found himself shortly thereafter denying his Lord, the one he had called “My God,” three times. This led to enormous regret and shame. Paul is another. In his zeal, he persecuted believers to their death. What a weight of regret this was. What a waste of time to live a life, although ignorantly, in direct opposition to the God of the Universe.
Such regrets can paralyze a person. He or she can dwell on the past, heap guilt on themselves, and find themselves descending into despair and even depression. We can forget that God, in his grace, specializes in redemption. He can miraculously take that which was great failure and redeem it. He miraculously and graciously can restore vast amounts of time, even years, that we have wasted by our foolish decisions and actions. That is the kind of a God we serve. He knows all our failures. He indeed knew about them even before they occurred.
Remember he told Peter, “You will deny me three times before the rooster crows.” Yet he also said “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). And He is praying for you and he is praying for me – and He has been praying for us, for He “ever lives to make intercession (Hebrews 7:25).”
Our gracious God would have us to “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:14). Otherwise, Paul, who wrote these words, would have lived a failed life of regret and “what could have beens.” We, like Paul, may have much in our past that we wish would have been different, but if we also, like Paul, serve the Redeemer, we can trust Him in His great grace to “restore the years the locusts have eaten.”
Such is the great love of the One who “keeps no record of wrongs (I Corinthians 13:5)” for those who truly desire to live for Him, despite all the failures of the past.