Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sharing our Daily Bread

When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. (Gen 41:53-54, NIV)
The story of Joseph and his adventures has always been very fascinating. It is a story of one man, who has had many doors closed to him, and each time that happens, a window opens up. It has often been said that when God closes a door, he opens a window somewhere. If we have eyes that we will see, we will see light coming in the midst of darkness. If we have ears that will listen, we will hear despite the gloomy silence, a sweet melody of hope. In Joseph, we see a person badly treated by his brothers, unjustly blamed for a sexual offense he did not commit and as one who did not receive his fair deal even after interpreting dreams for two of his clients. In every instance, where there is a famine arising out of failed plans and unmet expectations, there is a glimmer of hope, from the finger of God. Like the land suffering from seven harsh years of famine, in Egypt and only in Egypt, there was bread. Before we jump too quickly to think that Egypt is the Saviour of the land at that time, note how Egypt received their blessings in the first place; through Joseph.

Not by Industry, Nor by Luck but by God’s Wisdom
The bread was not obtained merely from the hard work of the people at that time. After-all, the famine destroyed all the land. No land. No jobs. No food. Whatever food available is certainly not out of nowhere, for the huge food reserves in Egypt were collected meticulously due to God's wisdom that has been imparted to Joseph. In other words, without God, Egypt will perish with all the rest of the nations at that time. We can take a leaf from the lessons of Egypt and Israel. Seven years of prosperity is quickly followed by seven years of famine. This is what I call the 7-year cycle. The comforting thing is that regardless of prosperity or famine, God provides the food not only for his people, but for all who lived on the land. Throughout the years of prosperity, the people were too busy building their careers. Yet, Joseph was quietly storing up food, anticipating the 7-year famine while the rest are oblivious to the potentially devastating food crisis.

During these bleak economic times, those of us who have stored up reserves, be willing to share with those in dire straits, or to give out more to assist the needy. Put aside past grievances. Let the grace of God flow out through you. Open up your storehouses and share what God has blessed you. Let not any act of grace become an act of ungrace by holding others to ransom. Exercise grace by basic generosity that is laced with the love of God. Let your material possessions point people toward the God who has given you all things. Hopefully, as they enjoy the bread to sustain their basic livelihood, they will be led to seek the One who provides all the bread in the first place. Pray that as Christians, (who are generally more affluent,) feed the hunger, quench the thirsty and comfort the sick or the weak, more people will be led to the Giver of life, the Author of our faith and the Provider of everlasting Bread. Despite the famine of the land, there was bread in the storehouses of Egypt. Likewise, in the midst of an economic crisis, may people from all walks of life, all religious faith come to know that there will be bread, the bread of love in the storehouses of God’s people. Let this love for people stretch farther than one’s love for material goods. May the love for God overcome any desire to hoard things up for our selfish consumption. In doing so, even as we deplete our current material stocks, take comfort that we are storing up treasures in heaven, each time we give to the kingdom of God.

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” (Richard Braunstein)

Thought: John Wesley once said about money, "Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Earn, save, then give. Perhaps, when it comes to love, shouldn’t we reverse it? (ie give, save and earn)


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