Saturday 3 March

48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

GENESIS 41:48-49, 53-57

We must admire Joseph for his tenacity. He is both an economic and a spiritual visionary. He saved thousands of lives by inventing and administering a policy  that survives in our world of commerce and banking. If you produce more than you need, save it, and if others are lacking, share what you have (albeit at a price).

Pension schemes work in the same way: put aside what you have while you can afford it so that when you have nothing – you will have enough to live on, you hope. In recent years, some pension schemes have failed to live up to this principle, either by failing to invest sufficiently or by plundering reserves at the wrong time for the wrong purposes.

Ironically today, there were growing numbers of malnourished people in the world, but because the world population is increasing even faster. That means that the proportion of starving people actually is declining. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world’s population receives enough food, while 90 per cent of those who do not are still getting 90 per cent of the calories they need. The problem is not lack of food but its distribution, which is often controlled by unjust, incompetent or corrupt governments.

Joseph made famine history in his time and, if someone today can galvanise opinion and practice as he did, then the starving stand a chance.

Lord, you have given us the vision and the power to feed the hungry and help the needy. Give us the will to persevere, for the sake of the friend of the poor and Prince of Peace. Amen