And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:41-42
Paul is absolutely correct when he says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). In contrast, our prayers tend to be weak and insignificant. Joseph didn’t dare ask for what he finally received. His heart was like a bruised reed and a smoldering wick. His groaning was like smoke that raises straight to heaven. His heart was a real incense burner! The sweet aroma that comes from a humble, groaning heart pleases God. Though Joseph may have felt like he was dying, his groaning didn’t cause any real harm.
Hang on. God will remain faithful. Don’t despair. Cling to the truth the psalmist proclaims: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). The Lord won’t extinguish a smoldering wick but instead will make it glow brightly. He won’t break the bruised reed but instead will strengthen it (Isaiah 42:3).
God wants to give us more than we ask for, not just fulfill our weak prayers. Joseph asked for nothing more than to be rescued, released from prison, and returned to his father. God in heaven let him pray for that for a long time. In effect, God was saying, “You don’t know what you are asking (Matthew 20:22). I will give you more than all you ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). That’s why you have to wait a little longer. I want more of the smoke that rises straight to heaven.” But later, Joseph received what he never could have imagined. He never would have had the confidence or courage to ask for it. We must recognize that God’s wisdom, grace, mercy, and power are more certainly with us, as they were with Joseph. However, God usually doesn’t give them to us in the way we ask for them.
Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:
Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther
Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.