I received the book, For these Tough Times, by Max Lucado (published by Thomas Nelson) a few days before Christmas. While it is a small book, and easily read in a single sitting, I was a little busy over the holidays and unable to sit down with it for any amount of dedicated time. I finally had the opportunity to sit down with it over the course of a few mornings and now offer my thoughts and review of the book.
If you are familiar at all with Christian literature, you will recognize the name of Max Lucado. I think he is probably among the most (if not the most) prolific writers of our day. I only make this point to say any critique or comment that I may have to offer isn’t going to be in the realm of technical ability or style; the gentleman obviously understands his craft. Sharing vocations with Lucado as a pastor, I was interested to hear what insight he has to offer those in need of answers during the tough times of life. I have been on the “hard side” of the table when difficult questions have been asked, I have entered into heart-wrenching sessions of grief counseling, and I have been speechless when a grieving parent and/or spouse is asking; “Why would God let this happen?” I am always in search of wisdom that may help me in bridging these moments with others, so it was with this interest that I approached For these Tough Times.
As I mentioned, the book is a quick read, but that in no way implies it is light (shallow) reading. Lucado approaches some very “heady” theology in a way that even the most un-indoctrinated man-on-the-street can find understandable. Max doesn’t shy away from the tough questions or gloss over any of the more difficult conversations that come up when discussing the nature and character of God. Let me share a few lines that I considered “quotable” highlights.
Chapter three brings attention to God, the Father. I really appreciated the emphasis that was shared in this chapter. There were a number of notable examples and illustrations that I’m sure I’ll use from Lucado’s explanation on the immanence and worship of God, but I especially liked this one line quote; “The more we focus up there, the more inspired we are down here.”
Chapter four begins with the sixty-four million dollar question; “How could God allow evil to bring destruction and loss into our lives?” In my opinion, this chapter is worth the cost of the book alone. I won’t ruin the chapter by quoting from it extensively, but I will say that it is very well written and not purposed to sugarcoat truth or trivialize tragedy. I think too, that this chapter (four) fits hand-in-glove with chapter eight (From God’s Perspective). This is what we most often fail to take into consideration in the midst of our pain; God’s perspective.
Let me say again, I really appreciate the clarity and ease that Max Lucado writes in the context of difficult situations. There is incredibly deep thinking that enables a teacher-author to be able to share topics with this degree of difficulty and distill them down to palatable and manageable truths. The book ends with a hopeful and heart-warming prayer that gives me forward looking smile of encouragement. I’m thinking that when I find it difficult to share words with a hurting person, this book might be a nice gift for them when they need comfort and find themselves alone.