When difficult circumstances overwhelm us and push us to despair, can we really maintain hope? In You’ll Get Through This, long-time pastor and New York Times best-selling author Max Lucado answers this question with a resounding “yes!” As few can, Lucado uses the art of storytelling to transform the Bible’s account of Joseph into a remedy for the weary soul.
Lucado begins by presenting a dramatized portrayal of Joseph’s descent into calamity while also offering nuggets of wisdom to readers who find themselves experiencing similar trials. This wisdom provides an excellent summary of the book’s message:
“You’ll get through this.”
Throughout the book in various ways, Lucado acknowledges that suffering will likely challenge us to our limits. Yet he contends that when we begin to wonder if the sky will ever brighten or our load will ever lighten, we can count on help from the Lord. This theme dominates the first third of the book and presents readers with a compelling case for hope in difficult times.
“It won’t be quick.”
Next Lucado explores the issue of waiting, which he describes as a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief. In addition to discussing the waiting required of Joseph, Lucado also includes incidents in the lives of Nehemiah and Daniel which demonstrate a patient response to God’s apparent silence.
“It won’t be painless.”
About halfway through the book, just when readers may begin to wonder if Lucado intends to tackle one of suffering’s toughest questions, readers find this chapter: “Is God good when life isn’t?” Here, Lucado challenges readers to consider God’s character in light of suffering:
- Is God always good?
- When life isn’t good, what are we to think about God? Where is he in all this?
- Is God good when the outcome is not?
In addressing these questions, Lucado communicates honestly about suffering, never trivializing it or promising it will simply go away. He also admits the difficulty people face when trying to reconcile suffering with the goodness of God, and he proposes that ultimately people must make a choice when confronted by unimaginable grief: trust in God’s goodness or turn away. Though such a conclusion may leave some readers unsatisfied, many more will find encouragement from the poignant, true story Lucado uses to illustrate his point. Indeed, even by means of this most heart-wrenching section of the book, Lucado succeeds at offering hope.
“But God will use this mess for good.”
In the remainder of the book, Lucado primarily explores Joseph’s explanation to his brothers that what they had meant for evil, God turned around and used for good (Gen 50:20). Weaving in topics such as gratitude, trust, and revenge, Lucado seeks to encourage his readers that God can similarly recycle their pain and use it for good, no matter how desperate their situation. While helpful at points, this section as a whole feels more scattered than the first half of the book.
With its conversational style and handy “Questions for Reflection” section (included at the end of the book), You’ll Get Through This is a worthwhile resource for both individuals and groups who desire an honest, personal look at the issue of suffering. This book probably won’t cure aching hearts, and it certainly won’t solve the deepest questions we ask in the throes of tragedy, but it will provide exactly what its subtitle promises: hope and help for turbulent times.
Nate lives in Dallas, TX with his wife, Noel, and their young daughter, Zoë. He works in higher education and is pursuing a master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary.
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