Yet even now, says the Lord, Return to me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain-offering and a drink-offering for the Lord, your God?
The people of Joel’s day thought they could do fine without God, and sadly, so do we. How hard it must be for God to see us turning away from him! God’s hands are outstretched, inviting us to draw near, express sorrow for our wrongdoing, and make a commitment to change. This is who God is – gracious, merciful, slow to anger, forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love. That is why he sent Jesus, the blessing he left behind, who is God’s sacrificial offering to God. God did everything for our sake, out of love.
Gracious and merciful God, hear the pleas of my heart, wanting to be freed of all that weighs me down and keeps me from you. Forgive me and turn my eyes upon you to be filled with joy. For you have sent Jesus Christ our savior, and that makes all the difference to me. Amen.