...back there in the Land o' Goshen. The famine was just getting started.
Day after day the sun beat down. The ground dried up and cracked and turned to dust. All around people were getting hungrier and hungrier.
Until there was no food anywhere – except in Joseph's barns!
And so people came from all over Egypt to buy food from Joseph. Every day crowds of hungry people pushed and shoved outside Joseph's door.
"Help us!" they cried, "We are starving!"
And so Joseph sold them the food he had saved in his barns and saved their lives.
Still day after day the sun beat down.
And day after day people came to Joseph – until all their money was spent. Their pockets were as empty as their stomachs (well, if they had pockets... but pockets weren't invented until many years later! Where did they put their cell phones??? Good thing they didn't have those either!)
Crowds of hungry people pushed and shoved outside Joseph's door.
"Help us!" they cried, "We are starving!
"We have no more money – we gave it all to you! Our pockets are empty! – well, if we had pockets, but they haven't been invented yet – but if we had pockets, they would be empty.
"Do you want us to fall over dead right here on your palace steps?!"
So Joseph said, "Bring me your cows and your goats, your gerbils and sheep, and I will give you food." (Okay, he probably didn't really say anything about gerbils!)
And so the people went back to their homes and rounded up all the animals they had – their horses and cows, their sheep and their goats, their donkeys and bunnies (well, maybe not too many bunnies!)
And once again, Joseph saved their lives and gave them the food they needed.
But still the sun beat down on the dry, cracked, dusty ground.
Day after day no rains came.
Until another year had gone by.
Once again, crowds of hungry people pushed and shoved outside Joseph's door.
"Help us!" they cried, "We are starving!
"You have all our money! You have all our animals! We have nothing left to give you to buy your food but our land and our bodies! Please! Take our land, make us your slaves – just give us food, and seed to plant when the rains come again!
"Or do you want us to fall over dead right here on your palace steps?"
So Joseph traded his food for all the land in Egypt, every bit of it – the famine was that bad. And every living person became Pharaoh's slave, because every living person was alive because of Joseph.
And Joseph said, "Now go and plant the seed I am giving you! And when the rains finally come, and your crops finally begin to grow again, and the harvest finally comes, for every five baskets you fill, one will belong to Pharaoh. The other four baskets you may keep for yourselves, to feed your children, and for seed to plant. But the fifth basket belongs to me."
"No problem!" the thankful people said (well, maybe that's not exactly what they said.)
But they were so thankful to have food to put in their empty stomachs, they were happy to do whatever Joseph asked.
After all, they owed their lives to Joseph!
It's a funny thing.
God makes the sun that shines. God makes the rains that fall to grow the food we need - and not just boring food like grass and bark, but wonderful food, like bananas and oranges, and mangoes and coconut and chocolate, cupcakes and pizza! Not that God makes cupcakes or pizzas grow out of the ground, I have never seen a pizza farm, have you? But God gives us all the stuff we need to make a pizza! He even gives us all the stuff we need to make the car the kid drives to bring the pizza to your door!
What a wonderful, amazing God we have!
But here is the funny thing...
We owe our lives to God just like those people owed their lives to Joseph!
Even more – because God gives us everything we need – more than we need! – and not just the food we eat, but the sun that shines and the air we breathe, and the ground we walk on – even the bodies we walk around in!
God gives us everything!!!!
Those Egyptians didn't grumble and complain when Joseph asked them to give him one basket of food for every five baskets they filled. They knew that without Joseph they wouldn't be alive.
But do we grumble and complain when God asks us to do some little thing... like spend an hour with Him at church on Sunday, or put some money in the collection plate to help him do his work?
Maybe it would be good to remember the story of Joseph, and remember to be thankful for all that God gives us!