Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
And there shall arise after them seven years of famine;
and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt;
and the famine shall consume the land;…
Genesis 41:29-30 KJV
Famine. A time of scarcity, lacking, and hunger. Egypt was going to be faced with the greatest famine they had ever seen and God chose to give them a warning of things to come through a dream given to Pharaoh. Joseph was used by God to interpret the dream and Pharaoh placed him in charge of efforts to prepare the land for the famine to come. We may not be faced with a famine today like the Egyptians faced but there are very common famines we each face. No matter who you are, famine will come – it may already be upon you. Famine spiritually, emotionally, monetarily. It comes to everyone. We must, like Joseph and the Egyptians, prepare for the famine while there is plenty. Lay up for the famine to come while we lack nothing.
I would like to take a moment to look briefly at a couple areas of famine that came to my heart this morning as I meditated on this portion of Scripture. Hopefully, something said will encourage you today.
There are times each of us will face periods of uncertainty in our walk with the Lord. The devil tempts and pokes at us constantly, we may stumble, we may hesitate, and we may doubt. These things happen. How then do we prepare for our time of spiritual famine?
Take note of God’s blessings. How often do you overlook a small blessing from the Lord because you set your sights higher and expect something earth-shattering to be sent your way? Do you look for the fire and the flood and the whirlwind and fail to hear the still, small voice? Stop it. God loves you. He cares about you. And just like a sweetheart will send little notes or give small presents to say, “I’m thinking of you” the Lord will send small unexpected blessings your way to let you know you are on His mind and in His heart. Don’t overlook these moments. Celebrate them. Talk about them. Consider starting a blessings journal to go back to and remind yourself during times when it’s difficult to see God working that He IS there and His thoughts toward you are GOOD. This takes work. It takes time and effort. But believe me, it’s worth it.
Bulk up. Take advantage of your spiritually plentiful times to build yourself up in the Lord. You may find it difficult to consistently read your Bible and build your relationship with the Lord when things are going smoothly. Believe me, I’m there with you. I think it’s actually easier when things are rough because I know I need the Help then, but we’ve got it backwards. The times when you and I are strongest are the times we should focus more on storing up strength for the famine to come. If you only ever work out when you’re weak and wimpy and stop doing so the moment you see the first glimmer of a muscle then what have you really accomplished? Nothing. The same goes for your spiritual life. Don’t waste your years of plenty foolishly. Store up the Word of God in your heart by committing it to memory, meditating upon it, studying it. Build yourself up in the Lord NOW so that when famine comes and you’re struggling in your walk with the Lord you have some strength stored up to get you through. The important thing is to simply keep moving forward.
We are emotional beings. It’s how God created us and He saw that part of us (along with everything else) and said it was good. But sometimes we allow that one little part of us to govern the rest of our lives and we can make some pretty bad decisions during those times. Am I right? We need to be careful not to allow our emotions to run the show. So. How in the world can we prepare for an emotional famine – and what in the world IS an emotional famine? I would define an emotional famine as: a period of time during which an individual experiences a lack or loss of love and companionship; a famine of emotional stability and security. This may be experienced between friends, sweethearts, spouses, parents and children, siblings, etc. Any human relationship is subject to an emotional famine at some point or another. So what’s to be done?
Memorialize the memories. This may seem silly, but I’m serious. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself physical reminders of good things about your relationships. Whether that’s scrapbooking (more power to you), taking the time to actually print those digital photos and slip them into a photo album, journal about ONLY happy things (a simple notebook with the date and your favorite memory about that day is really all it takes), or purchase small keepsakes to remember certain occasions or outings that you keep in plain site as rememberances. I like to keep cards and notes sent to me by friends and tuck them around in places I will see them often. A lot of my friends live far away and we don’t talk often but seeing these things around helps me to remember to pray for them and keeps my love and fondness for them fresh in my mind and in my heart. These tiny things can help you more than you know.
Reflect before you react. Several friends of mine (girls – obviously) have jumped on board the Origami Owl train and they purchase the little charms that go in the lockets that help them remember specific things like God’s blessings on them, each of their children (on earth and in heaven), their husband, etc. These simple little charms help them remember every time they see them that even though their kids may not be perfect, they may not FEEL that their spouse particularly loves them, or they may not see themselves as an adequate mother today that God is with them in that moment. When you face an emotional situation – your teenager is screaming at you, or ignoring you. Your spouse is giving you the cold shoulder. Take a moment to reflect on the good things in and about that person. We will all have those days when we don’t very much like our family, but don’t get to the point that you forget why you love them. Many marriages have seen their end because in a time of emotional famine, one or both involved have reacted before they reflected. Take the time to invest in your relationships good things. Love. Patience. Forgiveness. Respect. And so many other things. If you do this in good times, you build those relationships up, then you will have in your storehouses the things necessary to pull you through those famines to the other side.
I’m not going to dwell on this aspect but I feel it should be mentioned. Especially in today’s economy it can be tough. I know this. I understand. But that’s not an excuse to be foolish with the resources God has given you. If you don’t tithe – START. If you don’t give to missions – START. If you’re not accustomed to putting anything away in savings – START. If you’re in unnecessary debt – GET OUT. Why should God trust you with more when He can’t trust you with what He’s already given?
I’ve said all of this to hopefully encourage someone out there as I was encouraged this morning. Remember. Store up in the good times the blessings of God in your heart, the love of your spouse and children in happy times lest you be tempted to give up in your time of famine, and put aside savings for the future. Only then will you be able to feast in your times of famine.
Finally, don’t forget God’s blessings in time of famine – don’t be consumed by your famine. God is bigger, and He is there in your famine with you to bring you through it. Be encouraged.