By Sarah Puryear
A Reading from Genesis 41:46-57
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48 He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance — like the sand of the sea — that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.
50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”
53 The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” 56 And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.
This year, during Lent, the Old Testament lectionary takes us through the entire story of Joseph’s life. Today we hear how Joseph, who has become Pharoah’s right-hand man because he is “discerning and wise,” prepares Egypt for the coming famine by growing and storing up extra grain while the harvest is still bountiful.
During times of abundance, it is all too easy for us to imagine that things will never change, that we will always have the same forms of provision and comfort at our fingertips. The pandemic has given us a major wakeup call, as we have faced challenges unprecedented in our own lifetimes. This same dynamic plays out on a spiritual level. When things in our lives seem to be humming along, and our awareness of our need for God is muted, it is easy for us to hold off on turning to him. Then when a crisis hits, we suddenly realize our need for him, and thankfully he does not hold this against us. God is ready to hear us whether we’ve been the dutiful servant in the vineyard all day or whether we show up at the last minute (Matt. 20:1-16).
However, we do ourselves a disservice when we hold off on turning to God until a crisis hits. We both miss out on what God has for us in the present moment, and we make the lean times more difficult for ourselves when they come around again. In contrast, we do ourselves a favor when we do like Joseph did, and make the most of the good times by regularly storing up the treasures of Scripture and of prayer. Then when the crisis comes, we are better prepared to draw on their nourishment to see us through. This Lent, may we have the humility and insight of Joseph to store up the sustenance God has for us through daily practices of Scripture reading and prayer, to prepare ourselves for whatever lean times lie ahead.
The Rev. Sarah Puryear lives in Nashville with her family. She is currently staying home with her young kids after having served most recently at St. George’s, Nashville. She enjoys writing for TLC’s Covenant blog.
To receive a TLC Daily Devotional in your inbox each morning, click here.
Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kindu – Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
Christ Episcopal Church, San Antonio, Texas