+ Dr. Tina Armstrong introduces Joel and its message of hope, that God rescues his people from despair and offers an “afterward” to pain and loss.
Tina Armstrong is assistant professor of clinical psychology, director of clinical training, and PhD program chair at the School of Psychology. A community psychologist, she conducts research that targets historically underrepresented ethnic populations in efforts to understand issues related to wellness and resilience.
“It was a really hard place for the people. Yet God, the all-supreme being, encountered his people when they cried out to him. He didn’t leave them.” – Tina Armstrong
Hello, my name is Dr. Tina Armstrong, and I’m an assistant professor of clinical psychology, as well as I’m the director of clinical training in the graduate School of Psychology for our doctoral programs. So that would be our PhD and our PsyD programs. And today, I’ll be introducing the Book of Joel.
For me, Joel is really a communal witness of hope amidst despair. The themes of hope and resurrection, and even hope and restoration, I should say, really resonate with me. As an African American woman, there have just been times where I needed hope. There have been times where life circumstances and challenges have really pained me.
But before I go there, I want to talk a little bit about, kind of, my inspiration or, kind of, where my hope comes from. Of course, being a believer, my hope ultimately comes from God, but I have some pictures here. And these folks in these pictures really serve as hope for me. They really help me to draw on something bigger than myself when I have difficulties, when there’s problems going on.
It also reminds me, as I think about the Book of Joel, of how God acts to rescue his people. Hence, I bring this little bonsai tree. I wanted to capture this feeling of—and I’m sure you’ve all seen them online or in other places—like that one blade of grass, or that one little stalk of corn growing amidst cement, or growing in the side of a rock, or growing in a really hard place. I think that’s a message in Joel. It was a really hard place for the people, yet God, the all-supreme being, encountered his people when they cried out to him. He didn’t leave them. He encountered them and spoke directly to them.
So, Joel opens up with a community experiencing the worst possible calamity. And the Book of Joel offers several poems, a collection of poems, that kind of lead us through that. And I would say that Joel chapter 2 verses 28 and 29—the outpouring, the future hope, the Day of the Lord, that’s the part that just grabs me. Because at an appointed time, a very specific time, God will pour out his Spirit. God will shower his people with abundance and life-giving rains. And all flesh will experience this outpouring. We all get to share in this intimate connection with our Lord. This outpouring will be for all of God’s people.
The other interesting piece about that little passage there, those two scriptures, is it begins with “and afterward, I will.” So people who face pain and loss, they need an afterwards. They need to know that there is the potential, that there’s something more than what they’re currently experiencing. That there is hope that their circumstance and situation, that their hardship, can change. We need an afterward, even now.
And in that afterward, God pours out his Spirit, as I said before, on everyone. Those who were historically on the margins are included. Now I’m not a preacher, I am a psychologist. I wish I could preach but I can’t. But I tell you that right there, that would be preach. I wouldn’t be doing it, but somebody could do it. That’s a moment to say, “Hallelujah!” That those on the margins are included. They are central to the story. They are named in that afterward. There is an appointed time, and those who are on the margins become central to the message of God, because he pours out his Spirit on all flesh.
Joel chapter 2, verses 28 and 29. The Lord will pour out his Spirit. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants, in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.” The word of God.