Imagine waking up from a dream where seven skinny, dying cows just finished eating...yes, I did say eating! fat, healthy cows! And the seven skinny cows don't look any better at the end! Only to fall asleep again and have a similar dream, this time with seven shriveled heads of grain devouring seven plump, healthy heads of grain and looking none the better for their meal!

That's what happened to the Pharaoh of Egypt, and at this point, the Bible says He woke up understandably upset: "Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream. In the morning his mind was troubled..." (Gen. 41:7b-8a NIV)

This was a meaningful dream, and we know that Joseph would later interpreted it: "Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.'" (Gen. 41:25-27 NIV). We also know that this is exactly what came to pass: There were seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine (See Gen. 41:53-54).

In much the same way, we also go through times of "plenty", when things seem to be going well. There are no troubles to speak of, or at least not any big ones; and God's hand is visibly upon us and we hear Him speaking to us. As we all well know, however, we are not always in those times of spiritual "plenty". There are also times of spiritual "famine", in which God seems quite far away. Troubles abound, and we can't sense His presence or hear His voice. What do we do to carry on? How can we...survive?

The clue to this lies in the story of Joseph: "Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine." (Gen. 41:34-36 NIV)

We know from reading through the next two chapters in Genesis that this is exactly what Pharaoh did. He actually appoint Joseph as the one to oversee the gathering of the harvest (See Gen. 41:41-45). Storehouses were built, and 1/5 of the bounty of the seven years of plenty was put into storage (See Gen. 41:46-49). When the seven-year famine began, the people were ready. They not only had enough grain to get by, but there was also a little extra to sell to outsiders who came to Egypt seeking food: "And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere." (Gen. 41:57 NLT).

Thus, the solution to surviving the times of famine lies in storing up during the times of plenty.

What does this mean for us during our times of spiritual "famine"?

Just this: As we go through our times of "plenty", we need to "store up" for the times of spiritual "famine"!

But wait: How can we "store up" our "plenty" to be used in times of "famine"? Join us next week for "Pharaoh's Dream, Part 2: Storing up our Plenty.

In His love,

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Pharaoh's Dream" mini-series, please click here.)