“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
— Joel 2:12 (NKJV) —
I love the first part of this verse, but at first glance the second part may seem a little confusing. Why does Joel say we should approach the Lord with weeping and mourning? It seems like we are being told to be sad and depressed, but that isn’t what this verse really means. I read the chapter in context (which I encourage you to do as well) and it definitely makes sense. This verse also reminded me of the commentary I read on the Beatitude Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4) in the book Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing. I think it is very fitting as well for understanding the second part of Joel 2:12.
The mourning here brought to view is true heart sorrow for sin. Jesus says, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32. And as one is drawn to behold Jesus uplifted on the cross, he discerns the sinfulness of humanity. He sees that it is sin which scourged and crucified the Lord of glory. He sees that, while he has been loved with unspeakable tenderness, his life has been a continual scene of ingratitude and rebellion. He has forsaken his best Friend and abused heaven’s most precious gift. He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart. He is separated from God by a gulf of sin that is broad and black and deep, and he mourns in brokenness of heart. Such mourning “shall be comforted.” God reveals to us our guilt that we may flee to Christ, and through Him be set free from the bondage of sin, and rejoice in the liberty of the sons of God. In true contrition we may come to the foot of the cross, and there leave our burdens. Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pages 9-10.
Far from meaning being sad or depressed, the mourning in Joel 2:12 means true repentance for sin. We aren’t supposed to remain perpetually in “brokenness of heart” for our sins, but rather be set free by Jesus! Isn’t it encouraging to know that we can leave ALL our sins at the foot of the cross? Jesus will forgive our sins when we turn to Him with all our heart. What an amazing thought! Jesus loves us so much, and through Him and Him alone we can enjoy true peace and joy.