Coping With Famine
By Eli Hofer,
minister, North Harlem Hutterian Brethren
Publication in August 22, 2001 issue of The Journal, a Montana newspaper
Someone has said: ďAll news is old news, happening to new peopleĒ.
From that expression we can conclude that there is nothing happening
today, that hasnít happened to others in years gone by.
It is one reason for the relevance of Scripture in our lives.
For this reason the unvarnished renditions given to us in the pages of
the Bible thus can give us clear direction. For whatís taking place in our
lives today, invariable has happened to others before us. Coming to such
recognition can aid us and teach us not to make those same mistakes. If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.
The Bible records many instances of people that lived during times of
famine. One was Abraham, also known as the father of all those that believe.
Even though we learn much from how he coped with famine, in spite of the unwise
choices he made in his life, he did finally learn obedience to Godís commands
and became a friend of God. Abraham
was a type of God's election. Even
though Abraham failed many of the trials that the Lord sent upon him.
In his failures, he brought much grief into his old age.
Yet he is listed in the New Testament Hall of Fame as a genuine believer,
with no hint of his past failures (a true picture of Godís mercy and grace).
Genesis 12:9 records the following: ďSo Abram journeyed, going on
still toward the South. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down
to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the landĒ.
The story continues and relates how Abraham lied to protect himself and
his wife in Egypt (a type of the World), where he ultimately is banished and
send back to Canaan. We find no mention whatsoever that Abraham inquired of the
Lord before he set his face towards Egypt. The Lord sends these famines for His
own good purpose. In truth, most
often they become the spiritual wealth of our souls.
These natural famines, i.e. the trials in this life, the things that are
most crucifying to our flesh, are most often the very spiritual wealth of our
The Bible records the life of another great man of faith, Abrahamís
son Isaac. Take note of how he
conducted himself during his days of famine.
Genesis 26 records the history of Isaac's life. "And there was a
famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And
Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar.Ē
The very first thing recorded in the life of Isaac is a trial. As
believers, we will find, as we enter our life's journey, many riddles that only
the Lord can answer. We walk into
these trials with our eye of faith lifted unto the Lord.
Our eyes are no longer on the trial or the famine; but upon Christ,
because we no longer have the answer within ourselves.
We start to learn what it is to walk by faith.
Just as Isaac learned from the mistakes of his father Abraham, we too can learn much from the past. Isaac was confronted with the same trial that Abraham had. Would he also go down into Egypt? Look at Genesis 26:2: "And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt, dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of." Isaac never left the land [Abraham did not inquire of the Lord. He acted upon human reasoning and brought much grief into his life.]. Isaac dwelt where the Lord told him to dwell, and the Lord blessed him abundantly even in the time of famine. Because Isaac had learned dependence and reliance on the Lord, his complete life was a life of constant blessing. When his enemies ruined his wells, he instructed his servants to reopen them and dig new ones, and the Lord kept giving him new springs. For every act of obedience and submission to God, the Lord gave him blessing after blessing. If we desire Godís blessing on our lives, we would do well to study the peace loving life of Isaac.