Max Lucado's War Against Despair
Now, learning to trust him during those tough times—that's the challenge. But he doesn't differentiate between those who suffer at their own hands and those who suffer at the hands of others.
Do you think suffering and pain are necessary for God to grow us in our spiritual lives? What about when there's no crisis?
Suffering sure seems to be his choice of a spiritual boot camp. Is it necessary? Could there be another way? I don't know, in a fallen world, what the other choice would have been. In heaven I don't think he'll use struggles to change us. But he chooses to do so now.
The truth of the matter is, through the struggles we grow. Remove the struggle and we don't grow. Joseph was a better man because of his struggles. So, it's through struggles that God develops his people. And it's in part through the struggles of his people that God also accomplishes his larger plans.
How do you think Joseph's story departs from the volumes of Christian self-help books that see God as the great fixer of my personal problems?
There are two levels. Number one, the reason Joseph survived was because God was with him. In the second chapter of the Joseph story, after he's sold into slavery, five times in that narrative we read, "God was with him. God was with him. God was with him." The narrator wants to make the point that Joseph is doing well, not because Joseph is good, but because God is. So there's the first departure from self-help books. Self-help books say, "Look inside yourself; you have the resources to get through it." But Joseph says, "Look up. God will help you."
Secondly, and I think equally important, is the theology of suffering Joseph had. His theology of suffering is revealed in Genesis 50:20 when he said to his brothers, "You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good." It's a concise, powerful statement that says, "Yes, there's evil in the world. But there's still a God, even though there's evil, and God can take that evil and turn it into something good." Joseph had a personal theology of suffering to help him understand how he had gotten through the evil episodes in his life. But many people just don't have that. They don't have a clue that there's even a possibility that God is sovereign and he can use the suffering for good.
You'll Get Through This releases just before the anniversary of 9/11. What do you think Joseph can teach a country that annually mourns this national tragedy?
What Joseph can teach us is: Don't waste the sorrow. Don't waste the tragedy. There's something in here that's good. There's something in here that's redemptive. What can we learn?
Don't think for a second that there's not something in here worth redeeming. The Bible never says that those acts in and of themselves are good. There's nothing good about 9/11 and the attack. But in God's providence, he can use them for something good collectively.