If you were to talk to me about famine, I must admit that since I can get a snack out of the fridge any time I want, the idea of having nothing to eat was rather foreign to me. I tried to get my head around it, but it just wasn’t happening.
That’s why last week’s Bible study at church affected me so much. We discussed the famine that occurred in Isaac’s day, and our talk really tested my thinking.
The tale of this famine can be found in Genesis 26, and I challenge you to read this chapter thoughtfully. I say this because you may have a tendency to take the biblical accounts too lightly. Like me, you can probably go into your kitchen and get food any time you want. But I wonder if this modern convenience blinded me to a deeper need.
As with any story, there are two sides to this one, and God has allowed me to see both. So here are a few facts about the physical side, and I don’t mind telling you that they have really rocked my boat.
According to the World Vision organization, 811 million people–about 10% of the world’s population–go to bed hungry at night. Consider this heartbreaking story about a woman in Somalia. Except for a little fruit, she isn’t able to feed her family adequately. There are many other groups which I don’t have the time or space to name here, but they all foretell a global food crisis on the horizon.
As my fact-finding famine journey began, God used an interview which I was honored to conduct, with someone who had actually faced these conditions. Then I was able to take another step on my journey, when our small group from church prepared food for starving people. But while these experiences were enlightening, and we need to have a heart of compassion toward those around us, I couldn’t help but stop and think.
I wondered if there was something even deeper, and I remembered that the Bible speaks about a second kind of famine in Amos 8:11:
‘”The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land–not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.”
Now please don’t mistake what I am going to say, because these two kinds of famine are not at all mutually exclusive. In fact, one can see throughout the scriptures that God is merciful, and filled with loving kindness. Just think with me about how Christ fed the multitudes, and how He instructed His followers to care for the needs of the poor.
By the same token, though, Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. This was not a harsh statement. Jesus was just acknowledging that we live in a fallen world, with one of the by-products being poverty. It is not that God desires poverty and pain. That is not His heart, as we saw above. Man chose to walk away from Him.
The good news is that our Lord is calling you and me to walk towards Him today, and the scriptures confirm this. God says that today is the day of salvation, and He also tells us that if we hear His voice, we should not harden our hearts towards Him.
That brings up something else we need to look at in Genesis 26, since God’s voice comes primarily through His Word. Instead of walking towards God in humility, we read that Isaac went to Abimelech. Sadly, this is usually our response when facing a famine of any kind.
So let me ask you this question: When we find ourselves in famine, who do we run to? Do we simply come to God in humility, or do we harden our hearts and turn to someone or something else?
We can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God will walk with us through the famines of life, as He has already faced them for us on the cross. So whether it is your first or 21st time, the Lord invites all of us to tell Him that we have sinned, and that we are empty without Him.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.