What to Do in Turbulent Times
What to Do in Turbulent Times
I was supposed to be on a flight to Japan today. Ready to enjoy some vacation time with my wife and also my mom. We couldn’t wait to be slurping up the best ramen and swallowing up the freshest sushi in the world. I’d been planning this trip for the past six months. It would’ve been the first time in forty years since my mom had touched the ground where she was raised. And it would’ve been the first time my wife had ever visited “my mother land.” Yet, because of this now pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, I have had to postpone my trip. COVID-19 virus has not only disrupted my plans, but pretty much the whole world.
All these postponed and canceled events, that are happening by the hour, I have to say, it kind of makes the sting of this postponed vacation a little less severe. Either way, these are “interesting days” as many are saying. And the opinions about the situation of our world right now are all over the map.
And that makes this a perfect time (actually it’s always an ideal time no matter what) to turn to God’s word for his opinions. To look at what we can take in from Scripture. To see how God has worked throughout history. How he has used people during times of uncertainty and distress, as we’re in now.
In Genesis, there’s an account of an event that severely impacted most of the ancient world. A famine that struck the land of Egypt and “over all the earth” (Gen. 41:57). There’s also a man named Joseph, who was second in command when this severe famine hit, and he responded.
While I don’t think the main goal of Joseph’s life in Scripture is for us to analyze each decision he ever made. I do think there’s a few lessons we can learn from his leadership and wisdom. I mean the author of Genesis does informs us that, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man” (39:2).
From a quick glance, I think there’s two things we can learn from Joseph during their own worldwide crisis:
Joseph was foretold through Pharaoh’s dream about the severe famine that was approaching (41:1-36). At this moment, Joseph was promoted to second in command. He worked wisely and diligently at preparing for the catastrophe that was about to leave millions starving to death.
Now we may not have had any foreknowledge of COVID-19 impacting us the way it has been, but now we do. We’ve actually known about COVID-19 for at least three months now. So trying to be prudent, we need to be proactive at doing our best to contain and eliminate this virus through precautionary measures.
This means we should avoid making comments like “Ah, it’s the media and people that are blowing things out of proportion. Coronavirus is not the problem, all this hype is.” Even if that’s true, how can being safe to save the lives of others be such a bad thing? Those types of comments can show a lack of concern for our neighbors.
We see Joseph putting the information he had to good use by being proactive as it reads, “Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it” (41:48). So how can you be proactive during this pandemic? How can you be proactive with your family, workplace, church, neighborhood? Maybe it’s starting by having a different perspective and attitude about this situation. Maybe it’s not being overwhelmed and fearful, but asking for God’s peace so that you can think clearly and be of help. As Christians, we want to be wise and prepared during this time, so that we can be of help to those around us. Joseph both believed in his Almighty-Sovereign God and worked hard at being proactive.
Joseph utilized his position to help others. Being second in command to the Pharaoh, Joseph maneuvered his position to serve and help others for the catastrophe that was about to hit (41:46-57). Joseph knew that he was in the position he was in, because God had placed him there. And it was because of his position that he was able to make big decisions and save millions of people from starving, along with his family (42:1-50:26).
What position has God placed you in that you can use to help others during this pandemic? If you’re a boss of a company, how can you help support your employees during this time? If you’re working right now, how can you be of support to your colleagues? Maybe God has given you some influence with certain people, certain family members, you can use your position to bring hope and truth in the living God, who deeply loves them. There may come an opportunity where someone you know if financially hurting, because of the coronavirus. Perhaps God has put you in the stable financial position you’re in, so you can provide some financial relief to others? As Christians, how can we use the positions we have to make intentional decisions (like Joseph did) to help those around us?
As Pastor Matt shared this past Sunday, during this time many people might start to run, hide, and protect whatever they have. But the Christians have an opportunity to go, bless, and give. How can we be doing this?
Joseph’s faith in our Good Sovereign God, through a worldwide crisis is medicine to the soul, as he so well said: “You planned evil against me, but God planned it for good to bring about the present result — the survival of many people” (50:20).