The Pitfall of Hard Times
Genesis 41:28–54, 47-54
Trust God to see you through any crisis.
In today’s passage we see how God used Joseph to accomplish His purposes and save His chosen people during a famine. This is a timely study for us regarding difficult times. How do you handle them?
We’re heading into year three of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most anticipated the battle against the virus would be won by now, but it looks like we’re heading back into a season of lockdown. The early shortages of milk, eggs, bread and even toilet paper have been replaced in recent months by supply-chain issues that impacted Christmas and even more recently, a lack of virus testing supplies. Others are enduring grief from lives lost or economic hardships brought on by the pandemic.
Our response to difficult times reveals what we believe about ourselves and God.
Some get angry and blame God for their troubles. Others might feel abandoned by God or believe their situation means He doesn’t love them.
Henry Blackaby speaks to this mindset in his “Experiencing God” study. When his daughter, Carrie, was diagnosed with cancer, Henry said the one question the family didn’t ask was, “Does this mean God doesn’t love me?” He writes that the “love question” was eternally answered on the cross.
We can glean some important principles by observing how Joseph responded to the difficult times in his life.
Seek God’s wisdom. (28–32)
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, imprisoned unjustly and left there for a long season. But he remained faithful to God.
When the opportunity arose and in God’s timing, Joseph gave interpretation to Pharaoh’s dreams. Remember, nothing in God’s economy is wasted. The good Joseph had done for the cupbearer ultimately returned in blessing.
Follow God’s plan. (47–49)
As Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, God opened a door that elevated Joseph to an incredible position of authority and responsibility. After all the lessons he had learned and the difficult times he had endured, he took Pharaoh’s dream and conceived the right plan to meet the coming need. When the plan was shared, it became obvious to Pharaoh that Joseph was the only man in his empire who could oversee such an ambitious undertaking.
Harvesting and storing 20% of the grain over a seven-year period was a monumental task, made even more difficult by the prosperity the nation was experiencing. Joseph knew they had to follow the plan in order to survive the coming famine. This is not hoarding, it’s stewardship!
Be fruitful even in famine. (50–54)
It is important to follow God’s plan in the good times and in the bad. In the midst of trouble, the most important declaration is: “God, now that I am in this difficult season, please let me sense Your presence, and help me live a life that honors You.”
Joseph was divinely prepared by God through all his experiences and placed at the exact place and time where he could be used by God to save not only his own family but multitudes more as they endured famine.
In this season of COVID, we have seen God move and provide in amazing ways. It is possible to be a blessing to others even in the most difficult times. Will you get better or bitter?
By Don Fugate
Fugate is senior pastor at Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California.