Even if you’ve never met him, Max Lucado has a message for your darkest hours: “You’ll get through this.”
That, in fact, is the title of his newest book, released Tuesday by publisher Thomas Nelson. On Sunday, he is scheduled to speak in at the District’s National Community Church, where another evangelical author, Mark Batterson, is pastor. Mr. Lucado, who has somewhere north of 82 million books in print, is a well-known Christian author and the “preaching minister” at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio for the past 25 years.
That service — or, more precisely, what often happens after a church service concludes — was an impetus for his latest volume. People will approach him after worship, and while 15 or so might be happy, his 16th interlocutor, he recalls in the book, will unburden a tale of woe that tugs at the heartstrings. I asked him why things seem to be more troubled and troubling for believers these days.
“I think the challenge for people is their perception of expectations on God,” Mr. Lucado said. “We live in a day in which we’re quickly disappointed by God. He doesn’t do what we think he should. This happens for two reasons: One, we’re in a secularized society and then also there’s a theology that’s come into the church that says God should do what I want him to do.”
He added, “The presence of suffering does not indicate the absence of God, but the presence of suffering is an opportunity for God to take this and use it for something good. It’s a chance for God to develop my character or advance his cause. That change may not happen overnight, and it may not be pleasant, but God can use this mess than I’m in for something good.”
That message is woven throughout “You’ll Get Through This,” copies of which are going to be provided to clients at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers nationwide. People who have hit what may be the nadir of their lives are in particular need of a little spiritual encouragement, Mr. Lucado said.
Drawing from the Old Testament story of Joseph, the young Hebrew sold into Egyptian slavery by his envious brothers, only to end up as the pharaoh’s prime minister, Mr. Lucado highlights Joseph’s faithfulness to the God of his father, Jacob, as the key to Joseph’s ultimate triumph.
“Collectively, at the end of his life, Joseph could look back and say this was evil,” referring to his slavery-to-prison-to-palace life story, “but God used it for good. He saved people through it, he rescued the lineage of Jacob, [which is in] the family tree of Jesus, through it. He did good things.”
Are people not patient enough with God?
“One of the reasons that tough times are tough is that God takes his time,” Mr. Lucado said. “The Bible talks a lot about ‘waiting on the Lord.’ It’s hoping in the Lord, it’s trusting in the Lord, it’s believing that while I don’t understand what’s going on, he does. Tough times are hard for us, but they do develop our waiting skills.”
Mr. Lucado also noted that major life problems are a way to connect with those who don’t often consider spiritual matters: “Tough times remind us that we don’t know how to run the world. If we did, we wouldn’t have let this happen. Whether the tough time is our fault or someone else’s fault, one of the things we realize is, ‘You know, I need somebody to tell me what’s going on.’ This … opens the door to talk about God with people who typically don’t talk about God.”
I’ll confess here that Mr. Lucado has long been a favorite author. Not only is his writing compelling, but I’ve never read one of his pieces without gaining a fresh insight into the subject at hand. But whom does Mr. Lucado read? He mentioned devotional author Ann Voskamp, whose “One Thousand Gifts” is quite popular, as well as fellow Texas pastor Chuck Swindoll, one of evangelicalism’s most prolific writers.
But Mr. Lucado also turns to writers of years gone by: “Some of the writers from centuries past have been encouraging to me: F.W. Boreham, his books have meant a lot to me through the years; F.B. Meyer, who lived in the days of [19th century British Baptist preacher] Charles Spurgeon; right now, I’m reading a book he wrote on the life of Joshua.”
Once again, Max Lucado nailed it: I read Boreham’s “The Luggage of Life” while traveling last week, and it was excellent. Now, to find that Meyer volume.