Here are some thoughts connected to Piper's Future Grace series.
When I read stories in the Bible about people with large faith, or that were very effective for God, I often forget that they were relatively normal people. I have been thinking about Joseph and how God used him to change the lives of so many. How was Joseph different than you and I?
If you look at Joseph's life- from the early years- there were things that took place that could have been you and I. He had a dream- brothers bowing down before him. Now there was not too much discernment in telling your older brothers this story, was there? I don't have any brothers but I can see in almost every family this would get you in some serious trouble. Now granted, I don't think most brothers would have taken it to this level, but they would not have just let it slide.
Joseph's life had so many ups and downs. Favored above the brothers, sold into slavery, elevated among the slaves, thrown into prison, elevated among the prisoners, forgotten by the dreamer, elevated before the rulers and ends up the 2nd in command over the entire country. Up and down, up and down.
The Bible doesn't tell us about his attitude all the way through, but Joseph was not perfect and so he had good days and bad days in those up and down years, about 13-ish years worth. What kept him going? What kept him from getting cynical and angry at others mistreatment of him?
I think it was looking back on God's faithfulness and knowing that God had a plan and that there was just nothing for him to do but "Trust in the Lord" and wait for "Him to act". In each situation when he did what he knew to be right the outcome was up to God and all he could do was wait on the Lord.
A couple of years in prison here and there, slavery and evil women trying to seduce him and yet he did what he knew to be right and left it in God's hands. How hard would it have been to be sitting in prison knowing that you did exactly the right thing? Was there times he was despairing there in the prison? We are not told, but I think so. There were battles for his trust in God all the time and he just battled until God showed him where he would have him to be.
I have a hard time in the times of the unknown. I know I can't handle knowing, but it is so hard not knowing what will happen even in a month, let alone next year and beyond. Faith is produced when I look back on the past graces that God has given so many times. So many times He has carried me through and until He is finished with me here on earth He will have to keep carrying me through. I can't make it through anything w/o Him carrying me.
So then, as I look back on those past graces that build up the walls of my little "faith-house", the walls become stronger and stronger as each thing happens and each brick of past grace is laid on the wall. Pretty soon what would have really shaken my tiny little house doesn't even concern me. I can think back at the other "quakes" and remember, the last time we had a shake of this size it didn't do anything and there are more bricks now than then.
When I can look at those past events and know He is able to carry me through, then it gives me hope for the future because I know that He is building my faith all along and that faith, in what He has and will do, allows me to go through bigger trials than before, because my faith has been tested and is stronger. It is all His doing; His saving, His faith building, His allowing the testing at the perfect time, His graces, His carrying and His supplying the vision for me to be able to see the hope that is unseen- yet visible.
Joseph had to have great faith to wait on the Lord to renew his strength. He didn't have a bunch of verses memorized because there wasn't any written down yet. He had past grace, in his own life and in the stories he heard, to look to and that was it. Looking to God was all he had and that was what he did.