Max Lucado, one of America’s favorite evangelical storytellers, releases his newest book chock-full of heartwarming and heartrending tales of people who have been tested and come away stronger for it. Lucado draws upon the life of the biblical character Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery because they were jealous of him. Joseph then endured years of mistreatment at the hands of the Egyptians (in prison and out of it) before God finally exalted him to a place of ultimate power in the Egyptian realm. The gist of Joseph’s story that Lucado weaves into every chapter of this text is that God allowed trial upon trial to come to Joseph to make him into the kind of man God needed for a specific task. Joseph, to his credit (and as our example), consistently chose to honor God in each and every circumstance.
"As always, Lucado utilizes both his wit and wisdom to engage his reader before gently tackling the toughest truths that often have his audience retreating from rather than dealing with them."
It is this lesson that Lucado focuses upon as he shares numerous real-life stories of people who, like Joseph, have been pushed to the brink of despair and discouragement but chosen to trust God in the darkest moments of their existence. Lucado reminds readers over and over that in “God’s hands, intended evil becomes ultimate good.” His skill at drawing readers into a tale and through to its climatic conclusion is evident on every page. Hence, Christians will be convinced that no matter how difficult life can be, by the final page God’s good purpose will be accomplished.
Some of the life principles that Lucado brings to light as he shares the details of Joseph’s life (along with stories of folks enduring hellish situations today) include: the biblical truth that no matter what happens, God is faithful and will come through; even though people may feel all alone, God has promised to never, ever leave them to face life without Him; everyone has to endure life’s boot camp, and it looks different for each individual; learning to wait well, confident that God is at work behind the scenes; how to recognize God’s goodness, even when life seems anything but good; the power of disciplining oneself to give thanks, especially when circumstances are their grimmest; when family ties can bring the most poignant pain; how revenge kills the spirit and drags others down as well; learning to rest in the sovereignty of God; and how to rest in His love, despite what is happening around us.
Beyond the emotional stories of Joseph and the real-life anecdotes of current folks, Lucado concludes his text with an in-depth “Questions for Reflections” section written by Christine Anderson. This 50-page add-on will be useful for individuals and group settings alike. Each session includes specific questions and pertinent quotes, and is handy for summing up the main principles of each chapter. Readers will find value in slowly reading the main text and then digging deeper through this study guide. As always, Lucado utilizes both his wit and wisdom to engage his reader before gently tackling the toughest truths that often have his audience retreating from rather than dealing with them. Only Lucado bridges those gnarly gaps with such grace.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on September 19, 2013