“The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said.” Genesis 41:53
This week, I, along with several others from the church, have been attending the Environmental Film Festival at Eckerd College. When it comes to the environment, many people just see the bad news. Not seven years of famine, but simply a downward, irreversible trend. This leads many to apathy and depression. It’s too big a problem. It’s too far gone. There’s nothing that can be done.
These films have presented an alternative view. A view of hope. Yes, they document the problems, but they also encourage responses that are realistic and practical. There are many facets to environmental problems. Some people see that as an excuse to do nothing. It’s too complex. It’s so involved. It’s too much work. You can’t make a difference. But the other side of that is, everyone can do something. If you aren’t ready to become a vegetarian, you can drive an electric car. Can’t give up tuna? Ok. Maybe you can install solar panels on your house. Too much to deal with? You can advocate and do something like call your state senators about fracking. Or recycle something. Or pick up trash on the street. Or turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth. Or turn the a/c up a degree. Everybody can do something. This is something that can bring us together. Or it can tear us apart. It depends on us.
The situation of plenty and famine in Joseph was a cataclysm. Instead of just bemoaning things, Joseph came up with a plan and stored grain for the lean years. Then when the people were starving, the state had bread for them. This was due to Joseph’s foresight, planning, and leadership.
The story also reminds us that there is a constructive role for the state in addressing disasters as well as the individual. The environment is a disaster and we should expect leaders on every level to be doing all they can to respond with creativity and ingenuity and passion.
Bad circumstances can draw forth the best of the human spirit. We certainly see this most clearly in the life of Jesus.
When times are tough, may we respond out of hope and not fear or despair. We can trust God. Joseph and Jesus did. Amen.