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God Will Use This for Good: Surviving the Mess of Life by [Max Lucado]

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Chapter Contents:

  • A Prayer in the Dark Times vii
  • Chapter 1 An Audacious Promise 1
  • Chapter 2 Eventual Good 13
  • Chapter 3 You’ll Get Through This 18
  • Chapter 4 Keep Calm and Make a Plan 24
  • Your Response 37
  • Scriptures for Your Turbulent Times 39
  • Notes 49

Excerpt from Scriptures for Your Turbulent Times:

When You’re Grieving

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

Revelation 21:3, 4

I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.

Jeremiah 33:6

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

God Will Use This for Good


By Max Lucado

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Max Lucado
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8499-4754-4


A Prayer in the Dark Times.................................................viiChapter 1 An Audacious Promise.............................................1Chapter 2 Eventual Good....................................................13Chapter 3 You'll Get Through This..........................................18Chapter 4 Keep Calm and Make a Plan........................................24Your Response..............................................................37Scriptures for Your Turbulent Times........................................39Notes......................................................................49


An AudaciousPromise

She had a tremble to her, the innertremble you could feel with just ahand on her shoulder. I saw herin a grocery store. Had not seen her insome months. I asked about her kidsand husband, and when I did, her eyeswatered, her chin quivered, and theGod Will Use This for Goodstory spilled out. He'd left her. Aftertwenty years of marriage, three kids,and a dozen moves, gone. Traded her infor a younger model. She did her best tomaintain her composure but couldn't.The grocery store produce sectionbecame a sanctuary of sorts. Right therebetween the tomatoes and the heads oflettuce, she wept. We prayed. Then Isaid, "You'll get through this. It won't bepainless. It won't be quick. But God willuse this mess for good. In the meantimedon't be foolish or naive. But don'tdespair either. With God's help you willget through this."

Two days later a friend called.He'd just been fired. The dismissalwas his fault. He'd made stupid,inappropriate remarks at work. Crude,offensive statements. His boss kickedhim out. Now he's a fifty-seven-year-oldunemployed manager in a rotteneconomy. He feels terrible and soundsworse. Wife angry. Kids confused. Heneeded assurance, so I gave it: "You'llget through this. It won't be painless.It won't be quick. But God will use thismess for good. In the meantime don't befoolish or naive. But don't despair either.With God's help you will get throughthis."

Then there is the teenager I met atthe café where she works. She's freshout of high school, hoping to get intocollege next month. Her life, as it turnsout, hasn't been easy. When she was sixyears old, her parents divorced. Whenshe was fifteen, they remarried, onlyto divorce again a few months ago.Recently her parents told her to choose:live with Mom or live with Dad. Shegot misty-eyed as she described theirannouncement. I didn't have a chanceto tell her this, but if I see her again,you can bet your sweet September I amgoing to look her square in the eyes andsay, "You'll get through this. It won't bepainless. It won't be quick. But God willuse this mess for good. In the meantimedon't be foolish or naive. But don'tdespair either. With God's help you willget through this."

Audacious of me, right? How dareI say such words? Where did I get thenerve to speak such a promise intotragedy? In a pit, actually. A deep, darkpit. So steep the boy could not climb out.Had he been able to, his brothers wouldhave shoved him back down. They werethe ones who had thrown him in.

So it came to pass, when Josephhad come to his brothers, that theystripped Joseph of his tunic, thetunic of many colors that was onhim. Then they took him and casthim into a pit. And the pit wasempty; there was no water in it.

And they sat down to eat a meal.(Gen. 37:23–25)

It was an abandoned cistern. Jaggedrocks and roots extended from its sides.The seventeen-year-old boy lay at thebottom. Downy beard, spindly armsand legs. His hands were bound, anklestied. He lay on his side, knees to chest,cramped in the small space. The sandwas wet with spittle, where he haddrooled. His eyes were wide with fear.His voice was hoarse from screaming. Itwasn't that his brothers didn't hear him.Twenty-two years later, when a faminehad tamed their swagger and guilthad dampened their pride, they wouldconfess, "We saw the anguish of his soulwhen he pleaded with us, and we wouldnot hear" (42:21).

These are the great-grandsons ofAbraham. The sons of Jacob. Couriersof God's covenant to a galaxy of people.Tribes will bear their banners. The nameof Jesus Christ will appear on theirfamily tree. They are the Scriptures'equivalent of royalty. Yet on this daythey were the Bronze Age version of adysfunctional family.

They could have had their ownreality TV show. In the shadow of asycamore, in earshot of Joseph's appeals,they chewed on venison and passed thewineskin. Cruel and oafish. Hearts ashard as the Canaanite desert. Lunchmattered more than their brother. Theydespised the boy. "They hated him andcould not speak peaceably to him ...they hated him even more ... they hatedhim ... his brothers envied him" (37:4–5,8, 11).

Here's why. Their father pamperedJoseph like a prized calf. Jacob had twowives, Leah and Rachel, but one love,Rachel. When Rachel died, Jacob kepther memory alive by fawning over theirfirst son. The brothers worked all day.Joseph played all day. They wore clothesfrom a secondhand store. Jacob gaveJoseph a hand-stitched, multicoloredcloak with embroidered sleeves. Theyslept in the bunkhouse. He had a queen-sizedbed in his own room. While theyran the family herd, Joseph, Daddy'slittle darling, stayed home. Jacob treatedthe eleventh-born like a firstborn. Thebrothers spat at the sight of Joseph.

To say the family was in crisis wouldbe like saying a grass hut might beunstable in a hurricane.

The brothers caught Joseph far fromhome, sixty miles away from Daddy'sprotection, and went nuclear on him."They stripped Joseph of his tunic ...they took him and cast him into a pit"(vv. 23–24). Defiant verbs. They wantednot only to kill Joseph but also hide hisbody. This was a murderous cover-upfrom the get-go. "We shall say, 'Somewild beast has devoured him'" (v. 20).

Joseph didn't see this assault coming.He didn't climb out of bed that morningand think, I'd better dress in paddedclothing because this is the day I gettossed into a hole. The attack caught himoff guard.

So did yours. Joseph's pit camein the form of a cistern. Maybe yourscame in the form of a diagnosis, a fosterhome, or a traumatic injury. Joseph wasthrown in a hole and despised. Andyou? Thrown in an unemployment lineand forgotten. Thrown into a divorceand abandoned, into a bed and abused.The pit. A kind of death, waterless andaustere. Some people never recover. Lifeis reduced to one quest: get out andnever be hurt again. Not simply done.Pits have no easy exits.

Joseph's story got worse before it gotbetter. Abandonment led to enslavement,then entrapment, and finallyimprisonment. He was sucker punched.

Sold out. Mistreated. People madepromises only to break them, offeredgifts only to take them back. If hurtwere a swampland, then Joseph wassentenced to a life of hard labor in theEverglades.

Yet he never gave up. Bitternessnever staked its claim. Anger nevermetastasized into hatred. His heart neverhardened; his resolve never vanished.He not only survived; he thrived. Heascended like a helium balloon. AnEgyptian official promoted him to chiefservant. The prison warden placed himover the inmates. And Pharaoh, thehighest ruler on the planet, shoulder-tappedJoseph to serve as his primeminister. By the end of his life, Josephwas the second most powerful man ofhis generation. It is not hyperbole to statethat he saved the world from starvation.How would that look on a résumé?

JosephSon of JacobGraduate with honors from the University ofhard KnocksDirector of Global effort to Save humanitySucceeded

How? How did he flourish in themidst of tragedy? We don't have tospeculate. Some twenty years later theroles were reversed, Joseph as the strongone and his brothers the weak ones.They came to him in dread. They fearedhe would settle the score and throw theminto a pit of his own making. But Josephdidn't. And in his explanation we findhis inspiration.

As for you, you meant evil against me,but God meant it for good in orderto bring about this present result, topreserve many people alive. (Genesis50:20 NASB)


Eventual Good

In God's hands intended evilbecomes eventual good. That's themessage of Genesis 50:20 and theheart of Joseph's story. He tied himself tothe pillar of this promise and held on fordear life. Nothing in his story glosses overthe presence of evil. Quite the contrary.Bloodstains, tearstains are everywhere.Joseph's heart was rubbed raw againstthe rocks of disloyalty and miscarriedjustice. Yet time and time again Godredeemed the pain. The torn robe becamea royal one. The pit became a palace. Thebroken family grew old together. The veryacts intended to destroy God's servantturned out to strengthen him.

"You meant evil against me," Josephtold his brothers, using a Hebrew verbthat traces its meaning to "weave" or"plait." "You wove evil," he was saying,"but God rewove it together for good."

God, the Master Weaver. Hestretches the yarn and intertwines thecolors, the ragged twine with the velvetstrings, the pains with the pleasures.Nothing escapes his reach. Every king,despot, weather pattern, and moleculeare at his command. He passes theshuttle back and forth across thegenerations, and as he does, a designemerges. Satan weaves; God reweaves.

And God, the Master Builder. Thisis the meaning behind Joseph's words"God meant it for good in order tobring about ..." The Hebrew wordtranslated here as bring about is aconstruction term. It describes a task orbuilding project akin to the one I drivethrough every morning. The state ofTexas is rebuilding a highway overpassnear my house. Three lanes have beenreduced to one, transforming a morningcommute into a daily stew. The interstateproject, like human history, has been indevelopment since before time began.Cranes hover overhead daily. Workershold signs and shovels, and severalmillion of us grumble. Well, at least I do.How long is this going to last?

My next-door neighbors havea different attitude toward theproject. The husband and wife arehighway engineers, consultants tothe department of transportation.They endure the same traffic jamsand detours as the rest of us but doso with a better attitude. Why? Theyknow how these projects develop. "Itwill take time," they respond to mygrumbles, "but it will get finished. It'sdoable." They've seen the plans.

By giving us stories like Joseph's,God allows us to study his plans. Suchdisarray! Brothers dumping brother.Entitlements. Famines and family feudsscattered about like nails and cementbags on a vacant lot. Satan's logic wassinister and simple: destroy the family ofAbraham and thereby destroy his seed,Jesus Christ. All of hell, it seems, set itstarget on Jacob's boys.

But watch the Master Builder atwork. He cleared debris, stabilized thestructure, and bolted trusses until thechaos of Genesis 37:24 ("They ... casthim into a pit") became the triumph ofGenesis 50:20 ("life for many people").

God as Master Weaver, MasterBuilder. He redeemed the story of Joseph.Can't he redeem your story as well?


You'll GetThrough This

You'll get through this. Youfear you won't. We all do. Wefear that the depression willnever lift, the yelling will never stop, thepain will never leave. Here in the pits,surrounded by steep walls and angrybrothers, we wonder, Will this gray skyever brighten? This load ever lighten?We feel stuck, trapped, locked in.Predestined for failure. Will we ever exitthis pit?

Yes! Deliverance is to the Bible whatjazz music is to Mardi Gras: bold, brassy,and everywhere.

Out of the lions' den for Daniel, theprison for Peter, the whale's belly forJonah, Goliath's shadow for David, thestorm for the disciples, disease for thelepers, doubt for Thomas, the gravefor Lazarus, and the shackles for Paul.God gets us through stuff. Through theRed Sea onto dry ground (Ex. 14:22),through the wilderness (Deut. 29:5),through the valley of the shadow ofdeath (Ps. 23:4), and through the deepsea (Ps. 77:19). Through is a favoriteword of God's:

When you pass through thewaters, I will be with you;And through the rivers, they shallnot overflow you.When you walk through the fire,you shall not be burned,Nor shall the flame scorch you.(Isa. 43:2)

It won't be painless. Have you weptyour final tear or received your lastround of chemotherapy? Not necessarily.Will your unhappy marriage becomehappy in a heartbeat? Not likely. Are youexempt from any trip to the cemetery?Does God guarantee the absence ofstruggle and the abundance of strength?Not in this life. But he does pledge toreweave your pain for a higher purpose.

It won't be quick. Joseph wasseventeen years old when his brothersabandoned him. He was at least thirty-sevenwhen he saw them again. Anothercouple of years passed before he saw hisfather. Sometimes God takes his time:One hundred twenty years to prepareNoah for the flood, eighty years toprepare Moses for his work. God calledyoung David to be king but returnedhim to the sheep pasture. He called Paulto be an apostle and then isolated himin Arabia for perhaps three years. Jesuswas on the earth for three decades beforehe built anything more than a kitchentable. How long will God take with you?He may take his time. His history isredeemed not in minutes but in lifetimes.

But God will use your mess for good.We see a perfect mess; God sees a perfectchance to train, test, and teach thefuture prime minister. We see a prison;God sees a kiln. We see famine; Godsees the relocation of his chosen lineage.We call it Egypt; God calls it protectivecustody, where the sons of Jacob canescape barbaric Canaan and multiplyabundantly in peace. We see Satan'stricks and ploys. God sees Satan trippedand foiled.

Let me be clear. You are a version ofJoseph in your generation. You representa challenge to Satan's plan. You carrysomething of God within you, somethingnoble and holy, something the worldneeds—wisdom, kindness, mercy, skill.If Satan can neutralize you, he can muteyour influence.

The story of Joseph is in the Bible forthis reason: to teach you to trust God totrump evil. What Satan intends for evil,God, the Master Weaver and MasterBuilder, redeems for good.

Joseph would be the first to tell youthat life in the pit stinks. Yet for all itsrottenness doesn't the pit do this much?It forces you to look upward. Someonefrom up there must come down here andgive you a hand. God did for Joseph. Atthe right time, in the right way, he willdo the same for you.


Keep Calm andMake a Plan

We can't always see what Godis doing.

But can't we assume heis up to something good? Joseph faceda calamity of a global scale. It had beentwo years since the last drop of rain.No rain meant no farming. No farmingmeant no food.

Yet Joseph assumed God was in thecrisis.

Then he faced the crisis with a plan.He collected grain during the good yearsand redistributed it in the bad. Whenthe people ran out of food, he gave it tothem in exchange for money, livestock,and property. After he stabilized theeconomy, he gave the people a lesson inmoney management. "Give one-fifth toPharaoh, and use the rest for farming andeating" (Gen. 47:24, author's paraphrase).

The plan could fit on an index card."Save for seven years. Distribute forseven years. Manage carefully." Couldhis response have been simpler?

Could it have been more boring?

Some flamboyance would have beennice. A little bit of the Red Sea opening,Jericho's walls tumbling, or was-deadLazarus walking. A dramatic crisis requiresa dramatic response, right? Not always.

We equate spirituality with highdrama: Paul raising the dead, Peterhealing the sick. Yet for every Pauland Peter, there are a dozen Josephs.Men and women blessed with skills ofadministration. Steady hands throughwhom God saves people. Joseph neverraised the dead, but he kept people fromdying. He never healed the sick, but hekept sickness from spreading. He madea plan and stuck with it. And because hedid, the nation survived. He triumphedwith a calm, methodical plan.

In the days leading up to the warwith Germany, the British governmentcommissioned a series of posters. Theidea was to capture encouraging sloganson paper and distribute them about thecountry. Capital letters in a distincttypeface were used, and a simple two-colorformat was selected. The onlygraphic was the crown of King George VI.

The first poster was distributed inSeptember of 1939:


Soon thereafter a second poster wasproduced:


These two posters appeared upand down the British countryside. Onrailroad platforms and in pubs, stores,and restaurants. They were everywhere.A third poster was created yet neverdistributed. More than 2.5 million copieswere printed yet never seen until nearlysixty years later when a bookstore ownerin northeast England discovered one in abox of old books he had purchased at anauction. It read:


The poster bore the same crownand style of the first two posters. It wasnever released to the public, however,but was held in reserve for an extremecrisis, such as invasion by Germany. Thebookstore owner framed it and hung iton the wall. It became so popular thatthe bookstore began producing identicalimages of the original design on coffeemugs, postcards, and posters. Everyone,it seems, appreciated the reminder fromanother generation to keep calm andcarry on.
(Continues...)Excerpted from God Will Use This for Good by Max Lucado. Copyright © 2013 Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

--This text refers to the paperback edition.

About the Author

More than 100 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He also ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00C5QA2DC
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas Nelson (September 17, 2013)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 17, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2133 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
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  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 56 pages
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  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 7,305 ratings

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In just under two decades of writing, Max Lucado has accomplished more than most writers hope for in a lifetime. Most of his books have appeared on one or more best seller lists, including those published by the "New York Times," "USA Today," "Publishers Weekly," and the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). Aside from hardcover books, Lucado's writings have also been published as children's books, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, music CDs, mass paperback booklets, apparel, giftware, bookmarks, calendars, study Bibles, workbooks, curricula, and plush products. In spring 2003, Hallmark/Dayspring Cards launched a new gift card line featuring excerpts from Lucado's writings--and has already sold more than one million cards.

All this success has drawn more than a little attention to a previously low-profile Texas author and minister. Lucado has been featured in a wide range of media, including "USA Today," "Larry King Live," and "NBC Nightly News." He has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast before the President of the United States. He has traveled with internationally renowned musicians as a special speaker on their music tours, such as the highly successful "Come Together & Worship Tour" (sponsored by Chevrolet) with Grammy Award-winning artists Michael W. Smith and Third Day.

Journey to the Top

Lucado was born in 1955 in San Angelo, Texas, and raised in Andrews, Texas, the youngest of four children. His father was an Exxon oil field mechanic who, Lucado remembers, always smelled of grease cleaner. "It makes it easy for me to see a God who is loving and kind--because my dad was," he says. His mother was a nurse who grew up working in the cotton fields.

Lucado went through a period of rebellion against his parents' values and their God during his teens and into college. But it wasn't long before he found himself drawn back to his roots, back to God. He married, spent time serving as a missionary in Brazil, and returned to the States, where he began working as a church minister and writing on the side.

Secret to Success

From all accounts, Max Lucado is not a man consumed by sales, awards, and achievements. He often turns down media interviews since they impede on family and ministry commitments. He spends the bulk of his week serving as senior minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. And he is truly surprised by his own success--more impressed by his one-in-a-million wife and three amazing daughters than by his successful writing career.

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