The idea of seven years of famine seems unfathomable. Yet, that is what happened in Egypt. Pharaoh had a dream that was interpreted by Joseph. There were then seven years of plenty. (I like that part of the story) followed by seven years of famine. That is not seven weeks or months; instead, it is years.
The lack of food and water was forcing people to take extreme measures. They were selling their livestock and farms. People were giving up everything to survive, and through Joseph’s leadership during those years, there was enough food for everyone.
Joseph’s brothers came down to Egypt because they heard there was food there. Little did they know that the man handing it out was their brother that they had sold into slavery years before as a teenager. They were shocked when he finally revealed himself, and they were also fearful for their lives. In the final chapter of the book of Genesis, their father has died, and the brothers are still afraid, and Joseph says something that rings through the ages. He declares, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20 – NIV 2011)”
His words offer us an interesting perspective on the whole experience. The unfolding of a lifetime is summarized in his one statement. With the vantage point of time, Joseph can now see the hand of God working through all of the bad experiences to bring a positive outcome. The end of the story is that God is working to accomplish his good work for humanity, even in the dark nights of pain and confusion.
Life right now seems to be full of struggles. There are weeks of isolation, disruption of routine, financial setbacks, job layoffs, and the threat of sickness. The good news for today is that we have the same God in charge as in the days of Joseph. Different struggles, but with the same God, it doesn’t matter. We know how the story will end.