Globally we are all going through a time of uncertainty, and Covid-19 has become our new common language. There has never been a time like this before in my life, and probably not in yours, either. In this pandemic our faith is of paramount importance; we should have a lifestyle of faith that is ever-increasing! God is bigger than any struggle we will ever face.
The Bible is a book of storms and endurance. Many of its pages are filled with stories of men and women who, by faith, withstood many trials and testings. One such person is Isaac.
Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 26:1-4, NIV)
There are a number of truths hidden in this text that are applicable to us as we face Covid-19 and they come from these four pivotal points:
- Back to back famines (scarcity, starvation, deprivation, shortage): Isaac experienced this hardship and suffering twice in his lifetime.
- Stay in this land: The Lord told Isaac to be rooted where He placed him.
- I will be with you and bless you: God promised to be at Isaac’s side and to provide all that he would ever need.
- All the nations of earth will be blessed: Isaac was the key to breaking the famine.
Firstly, we are not to lean on fear or worry. Isaac saw hardship all through his life, but he had such a walk with the Lord that he wasn’t moved by what he saw but by who he saw. God was with Isaac, as He was his father, Abraham. God was Isaac’s compass for making life choices. When God leads you, He will be with you regardless of the season or circumstances.
Why stay in hardship? Moving and fleeing to Egypt would have been the natural thing to do—others were fleeing; shouldn’t he?—but Isaac trusted the Lord’s leading. Notice how God spoke to Isaac directly, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.’ Observe this verse in Psalm 1:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:3, NIV)
To get the context we need to read verses 1-2:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, NIV)
Who you listen to during a season of uncertainty is fundamental. There are so many voices talking today, but God’s voice must be number one in our lives. It’s equally important to mediate on God’s Word. The Word of the Lord focuses our priorities: as God was first place in Isaac’s life, so He should be first place in our lives.
Secondly, we need to remain planted and rooted where God has placed us. Where God has led you is your place of miracles. God told Isaac: ‘Stay. Even though things seem hard, I will provide for you and your family.’ The prophet Habakkuk said:
‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NIV)
Our joy should not come from the things we have or we don’t have. Nor should it be based on how we feel. Our feelings, emotions and circumstances change—but the Word of the Lord remains the same always. Like Isaac—who did not make a decision on what he saw or felt but stood on God’s promise—our joy is a direct result of our obedience to God’s Word. In this season let your walk with God—like Isaac’s—grow stronger. Paul reminds us, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.’ (Philippians 4:4, KJV)
Thirdly, we have to remember that ultimately God is our provider, not the place where we are or the global economy. God can use these things—or whatever else He decides—but we look to Him as our source. Covid-19 will not dry up God’s blessings! You can still be blessed in a famine (crisis) if you cling to God and His Word. Isaac’s promise from God was ‘Stay and I will be with you and bless you.’ It’s great knowing that God is with you!
Psalm 107 is the great storm chapter in the Bible. I encourage you to take the time to read it during this season. It serves as a reminder of how good God is, even in uncertainty. In verse 6, the psalmist writes: ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.’ God’s promise for us is the same: He will renew our hope and open doors of blessing whatever challenges we face.
Lastly, our actions today will have an impact not just on us, but around the world. Isaac made the unpopular choice to stay where God had planted him and as a result God elevated and blessed him. He planted crops that same year and reaped a hundredfold. Isaac prospered and his wealth continued to grow until he became very rich. He had so many flocks, herds and servants that even the Philistines envied him (Genesis 26:12-14).
Notice that Scripture tells us Isaac planted crops during a famine. This is madness to those who do not follow God’s Word, but it’s important that whilst we stay in God we continue to sow. Do not stop giving during this famine: now is the time to sow! We must continue to be faithful with our tithes, offerings and Fruit Fruits. Now is not a time to store up and withhold from the Lord. Now is the time to put God’s Word into practice in our lives. It is God who provides for all our needs. Ultimately, He is our source and supplier, not our jobs! God will provide when we do as He commands us.
‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.’ (Luke 6:38, NIV)
‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’ (Malachi 3:10, NIV)
‘Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.’ (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NASB)
It’s during these exact times that we learn what it means to walk by faith and not by what we see or hear. It’s time for us to sow, knowing that Scripture promises we will reap a reward. God will be with us and He will bless us. Not even the Covid-19 pandemic and global shutdown can stop His Word from being fulfilled over us today!