On Saturday Bethany asked me if I’d read that day’s devotional. I had not. She said I should. So I did. And I kept reading, again and again. Still reading it today. It’s from Faith Alone, a devotional of Martin Luther’s writings. I recommend it highly as a book as an app.

More Than We Can Imagine

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger.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 rises 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 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 most certainly with us, as they were with Joseph. However, God usually doesn’t give them to us in the way we ask for them.

From Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther, James C. Galvin. ©2005 by Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced without written permission from Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49530. Sent from the Martin Luther’s Faith Alone Devotional. For devotionals like this one for your iPhone, visit us at 43rdElement.com

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