Pastor Max Lucado: Waiting on the Lord is putting your hope in Him. Saying, “Lord, I trust You. I know that something good is going to happen. I know You’re still on the throne. So, I’m waiting on You. I’m waiting on You to act. I’m waiting on You to respond. And I’m going to trust You until that happens.”
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: That’s Pastor Max Lucado and he’s our guest today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And today, Max is going to help us understand better some of the feelings we have and some of God’s perspective on this pandemic. I hope you’ll stay with us.
Jim Daly: John, Max Lucado has for decades been offering encouraging words. His simple message is, God loves you. So, let Him. And what a wonderful thought. And I know that as he shares with us today, you’re going to hear the pastor’s heart in his voice. And we’re all carrying burdens in this crisis and he’s going to touch on a few today. And the main thing is we don’t want you to feel in any kind of despair or fear or anxiety. And this is exactly what we’re going to talk about.
John: And Max Lucado is a nationally known speaker and a bestselling author. He’s been a pastor – the teaching pastor of Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, Texas, for many, many years. His book that we’re offering today that is going to be so helpful for you is called You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times. We do have copies of that here at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And Max, welcome to Focus on the Family.
Max: Well, thank you, my friend. It’s a – it’s a joy. It’s a – really a treat to have a few moments with you.
Jim: Now, I was surprised. You’ve been posting videos during the pandemic and something like 10 million people have viewed your videos. That’s pretty – that’s big time, man.
Max: (Laughter) Well, I’m – nobody’s more surprised than I. In fact, I think the number went over 11 yesterday.
Max: We were on a call getting caught up. But I think people are just in need of some encouragement. They’re needing to have their spirits lifted. People are battling a lot of anxiety, uncertainty. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s coming at us from all angles all over the world. And so, I think people are saying, “Somebody help me. Help me navigate these waters.”
Jim: Well, it is. It’s so – such a unique time. And I’m sure when you were writing the manuscript, you know, the title being You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times – I’m sure you didn’t have a pandemic in mind, did you?
Max: Never. Never. But yet, you know the stories in the Bible. I mean, they’re everything -everything is covered in Scripture. And, uh, the You’ll Get Through This story is based on a global calamity. It wasn’t a virus, but it was a famine. And it was the story of Joseph in the Old Testament and how God had him positioned perfectly, perfectly to guide the nation of Egypt. Plus, the surrounding nations that didn’t own the world through a global crisis. But since we believe in a good God, we believe that God can use even these plagues, even these pestilences to do something good. That’s the story of Joseph. What was intended for evil, God used for good. That’s the story of the cross. What was intended as evil on Friday became Easter Sunday celebration. And listen to me, God’s going to do it again. This pandemic will end when Jesus Christ has chosen that it has served its purpose.
Max: He will rise up in the boat just like He did on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the storm. He’ll speak and there will be a scientist who discovers a vaccine. There will be a miraculous conclusion. We’ll either be healed on this planet or in His presence. I don’t know. But I’m absolutely convinced that He uses – because of His character, that He uses these things to accomplish His purpose.
You know, it’s so difficult…
Max: Didn’t mean to get off in a sermon there…
Jim: No, no. But, hey, you’re a pastor.
Max: I am preacher.
Jim: We’ll accept it. And it’s such a – such an intriguing thing to think about. You know, it’s similar to the winding up of this age that there is going to be this last person on this earth that confesses Christ and boom, that’s it. That’s that last person He was waiting for. And it’s – I think it’s hard for us to grasp that God is accomplishing His purposes in this environment. And there’s going to be that last circumstance that you’re suggesting that the Lord’s going to want to accomplish in somebody on this planet. And it is and then it’s done. And then humanity moves on. I think it’s hard for us to completely understand that.
Max: We’ve got to have a big picture. You know, we’ve got to have a big picture. We don’t – we don’t see the whole story. Uh, I’ve compared it to when I was a high school senior. I got a job on an assembly line building vacuum cleaners. The vacuum – I didn’t build it, but the vac – the assembly line had two or 300 people.
Max: Two or 300 stations. And I was one tiny little cog in that assembly line. And so, had you just, you know, chosen to freeze frame my segment in that little step action on my part, you would have said, “There’s no purpose in this. And it’s very unpleasant.” But had you backed away, had you widened the lens until you could see, “Oh, there’s 200 people on this assembly line. Each one has a different job. And the end result is a very nice, curvy vacuum cleaner.” Well, then you can say, “OK, I get it. Lucado’s part in that was not too pleasant, but the end result was pretty extraordinary.” Well, that’s what God is always calling on us to do.
Max: The Apostle Paul said, “these brief and momentary struggles.” (Laughter) They don’t feel brief and momentary. But “these grief and momentary struggles are attaining for us a glory that is beyond comprehension.”
Max: So, that’s what this is.
Max: This life is brief and momentary. It’s one tiny spot on the assembly line that God is overseeing.
Jim: Yeah. And it’s a great backdrop for us to talk about, Joseph. Let’s – let’s unpack his story a little bit, especially for those that might be new believers listening or maybe they’ve – they just never read the story of Joseph. Describe what’s going on there. This is right out of the Old Testament.
Max: Here’s the condensed version of Joseph for those of us who’ve forgotten it or never knew it. Joseph was one of 12 sons of Jacob. And he had two dreams. They involved moons and stars and sheaves of wheat. And these dreams all said the same thing, that someday Joseph was going to rule over the family. He would have been wise to keep those dreams to himself, but he boasted about those dreams to his brothers. His brothers were understandably envious. And they were going to kill him but decided they could make money off of him. So, they sold him into slavery, and he ended up going down, down, down to Egypt where he ended up as a servant in the household of someone named Potiphar. Worked its way up the food chain until he was accused of sexual impropriety by the wife of Potiphar – falsely accused, by the way. Ended up in prison. Worked his way up that food chain until they found somebody who could put a good word in for him with – with Pharaoh. And that person promised to do so but forgot all about Joseph.
Max: So, he languished in prison for at least two years. I mean, it’s a – it’s a story of one step forward, two steps back. And finally, he is promoted from one day to the next, from the prison to the palace. And there, because he understood these dreams of Pharaoh, Pharaoh said, “I’m going to put you in charge of overseeing the world during a time of famine.” And the crowning verse of the story of Joseph – really the – a crowning verse on the theme of sovereignty and the Bible is Genesis 50 and verse 20. He told them “You intended evil against me, but God intended it for good.” I think that’s such a – such a promise that God takes intended evil and reweaves it for ultimate good. That’s the promise of the book. And right now, I mean, it’s just a world of chaos that God is behind the scenes and He’s reweaving all of this into something good.
Jim: So true. And Max, you’ve done a great job in your book, You’ll Get Through This. I mean, I can’t imagine a better title for people who are suffering right now because of this pandemic and all the circumstances they’re in. And we want to make sure people know, John, how to get a copy of this book.
John: Yeah, we’ve got it in stock. We’ll be happy to send it out to you. We are open. We’ve got folks working all over the place here at Focus on the Family. Safely, of course. But, uh – and many at home. But give us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-23-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And, Max, as you’re talking, I’m thinking we can read through Joseph’s story in one sitting. And right now, it’s such a surreal circumstance with time suspended and who knows what day it is. And I’m – we really have to check all this stuff. For some people who are suffering and really fearful, these are long days. This is a long period. Address how time plays into God’s sovereignty and how waiting is part of His purpose.
Max: Yeah. That is a great question, because you can read through the story of Joseph in an hour and think, “Oh, OK. This was pretty painless.” And so, you know, Joseph, he spent a decade and a half at least wondering what in the world was going on. And that’s a long time. That’s a long time. And so, learning to wait on the Lord is really helpful. I remember somebody pointing out to me that – how powerful it is – the Isaiah promise, “those who wait upon the Lord and shall renew their strength.” That waiting on the Lord, Biblically speaking, is not just sitting in a waiting room twiddling your thumbs flipping through a magazine like you’re waiting on the doctor. But waiting on the Lord is putting your hope in the Lord. Saying, “Lord, I trust You. I know that something good is going to happen. I know You’re still on the throne. So, I’m waiting on You. I’m waiting on You to act. I’m waiting on You to respond. And I’m going to trust You until that happens.”
Jim: Hmm. Hey Max, it does come down to this application into our current life and our current situation that John’s alluding to. With all of the support systems, or most of the support systems, that have been blown up because we can’t get out. We’re wired for relationship. We know that as being created in God’s image. That’s why He created us for relationship. And yet, um, we’re not functioning in the way we were created. How do we cope with that? How do we in this situation – how do we find those support systems? How do we supplement them?
Max: Yeah. I think two or three ideas are really helpful. Number one, you got to be kind to yourself. You got to be kind to yourself. You have never been here before. And all those places we’ve gone for strength, all those ways we’ve used to cope, many of those are gone. Many people would go, you know – go to a movie or go walk through the shopping mall just to get a change of pace. And here we are stuck under one roof. So, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge that you’re having to retool right now. Part of being kind to yourself is allowing yourself a good meltdown.
Max: It’s OK. You know, there’s a book in the Bible called Lamentations because Jeremiah had to lament so much the condition in which he found the society that he was called to serve. Uh, and sometimes we’ve just got to say, “Lord, it’s not right. Lord, my heart is heavy.” So, allow yourself a good meltdown. And some people need a meltdown or two a day. Now, you might realize and we’re picking up, I think, that this feels a lot like grief. We’re going through a period of grief.
Max: We’re grieving the life that we used to have. We’re grieving the opportunities that we feel we’ve lost. You see, grief is unmet expectation. We’d expected X and we’re getting Z. And so, it’s – it’s hard on us. And so, acknowledge that this is a sad season. But then lastly, I’ll say, it’s so important and that is defy despair. Just defy it. You know, anxiety and fear are intended to be a wakeup call, but they’re not intended to be a state of life. So, let anxiety serve it’s purpose. Let fear serve it’s purpose. Let it wake us up. “OK. I got to get my finances in order.” “OK. I need to start preparing a resume.” “OK. I’ve got to figure out plan B.” So, you know, let it wake us up. But don’t allow yourself to be sucked down into that pit of despair. And you know you’re in the pit of despair when you’re paralyzed. When you’re sitting on the couch and you’re not moving. When your treatment of this struggle is nothing more than a, I don’t know – a television show, or worse, pornography, or you know, some kind of binge. So, if you find yourself bingeing to treat this, it’s not going to help you. You’re going to sober up and it’s going to be worse. So, you’ve got to call out to God, say, “God, I need help.” And begin putting a plan together to get yourself back on your feet.
Jim: Well, that is so good. And, you know, that’s one of the reasons, Max, we are here at Focus on the Family. And we have, as John mentioned at the break point – just we have caring Christian counselors who can help. We’ve got folks that are here to step in and put an arm around you. That’s the whole purpose of the ministry here. In that context, when you go to perhaps the worst-case scenarios right now – people, the 25 million or so that have lost their jobs, et cetera. It’s wonderful that we have a country that recognizes this in the way of unemployment as a short-term assistance to get people back on their feet. A lot of countries don’t have that, um, and that’s a good thing. Yet the fear is still there for these folks. You know, some of them are still going to struggle to make that mortgage payment or ensure that the family has groceries, et cetera. Especially if both mom and dad are out of work right now. Speak to that community where the fear can be gripping.
Max: Yeah. These are such great questions. And – and if I can amen what you said about Focus on the Family. You not only have a great ministry team there, you have had one there for decades. Decades.
Jim: I appreciate that. That is very kind.
Max: And you have ministered to me and to millions of us around the globe. So, I am encouraging any of your listeners, if you need to tap into valued, seasoned source, Focus on the Family is right here. OK, so to answer your question, though, about – about dealing with this anxiety. I take people all the time to Philippians chapter 4 which is the go-to passage for anxiety. “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” It’s just a powerful text. And preceding that and following that text, you put all – you put those four verses together and you’ve got number one, you rejoice in the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice.” So, whenever you find yourself getting really anxious, then rejoice in the Lord. In other words, lift up your eyes and look up into the heavens and set your mind on God. The apostle Peter could walk on the water as long as he kept his eyes on Christ. But whenever he saw the wind and the waves, he began to sink. So as long as we’re rejoicing in the Lord, we have a chance of walking on water. And then number two, ask the Lord for help. Just ask Him. And, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and petition let your requests be made known.” So, prayer is a broad word for talking to God. Petitions are those specific requests. So, let your prayer time be marked by worship, by declarations of God’s goodness, but say then, “Lord specifically – specifically I need this help.” And then number three, be grateful. Be grateful. The Apostle Paul said do this “with thanksgiving.” I’m convinced that the anxious heart and the grateful heart cannot cohabitate. One will push the other out. Ingratitude always pushes anxiety out. So, you’ve lost a lot. That’s true. You have lost so much and I’m so sorry. But remember what you do have. Make a list of what you do have. And then lastly, meditate on good things. Think about what you think about. Don’t – don’t allow your mind to be caught up in all the negativity.
Max: I had to put myself on a ration of news. I found myself listening…
Max: …To news all day long.
Max: And I was getting more and more tense. And so, I only allow myself about 10 or 15 minutes of news a day. I know some people want a lot more than that, but I can’t take more than that without getting anxious. And so, figure out what works for you. But make sure you meditate on good news.
Jim: Yeah, that is really good. And I agree with the dieting on the news because that just creates fear and anxiety so often. You know, I’m thinking again about Joseph as we’re winding up here and how do we practically apply what Joseph obviously understood as a – as a God follower, even in the Old Testament – how do we apply living well for God?
Max: You know that Genesis 50:20 is such a powerful principle. He told his brothers, “You intended evil for me, but God – but God used it for good in order to bring about this present result, the saving of many people.” And so, if we can understand that God is still active and working and He can take these heartaches – these heartaches that we’ve had and turn them, Jim, into something amazing, extraordinary. Jim, when I was 12 years old, I went on a camping trip with a man and, uh, took four of us good friends and, uh, we had become good friends with this man. He was affiliated with an organization in our small town. And, uh, he sexually abused all five of us on that camping trip.
Jim: Oh my.
Max: It was horrible. It was a nightmare weekend. We got there and he had the tents and the sleeping bags, and he had several bottles of whiskey. And it was a nightmare of a weekend. I came back home on that Sunday after that weekend and our church that day – I was 12 years old. And our church that day had had a communion service. And I didn’t get to our house until about 5:00 that evening. And I felt so dirty. I felt so violated. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I supposed to tell my parents or not. You know, I was 12 years old for crying out loud.
Jim: Oh yeah.
Max: My mind wasn’t even fully developed. And so, uh, my parents never – they – I didn’t tell them. I went in and I cleaned up and I showered up and I watched TV with them. And they went to bed. And then the most amazing thing happened, Jim. I went into the kitchen and I staged my own little communion service. I got some juice out of the fridge. I got some bread. Really, we didn’t have any bread. So, I got some potatoes.
Max: So, I just – I had my own little communion service. (Emotion) And Jim, I’m just here to tell you that Jesus came and – and appeared to me in that evening.
Max: And, uh, He came, and He ministered to me. And all these years later, I – I still sense His abiding presence.
Max: And what was intended as utter evil against me turned out to be a moment in my life that here I’m 65 years old and I still talk about it and I get tears in my eyes.
Max: And I became completely convinced in that moment that Jesus Christ was with me. I’ll go to my grave believing that Jesus Christ is with me.
Max: Because that – because of that moment. It was a horrible experience. But God – but God used it for good. I – I don’t think – there’s nothing that makes me think that moment in my life was good. But God turned it into something good.
Max: And, uh – and that’ll happen to – I’m talking to your listeners and I’m just saying He’s going to do that for you. He’s going to do it. Just don’t give up. Don’t cave in. Just pray and believe.
Max: And He’s going to take these evil things and He turns them into something good.
Jim: Well, Max Lucado, I mean, I’m listening to that. And I so appreciate that vulnerability and the modeling of what we as Christians should be. And that is an open book. And what a great story. I mean, not only have you studied Joseph, you’ve lived it. Man, you were in that valley. And my heart goes out to you. And that’s a horrible situation for any child to have to go through. And yet, at the same time, God has lifted you up to be a Joseph in this generation to proclaim Christ. You’re known as the nation’s pastor. Think of that – what was intended for evil. But God. He had His eye on you. That little boy saying, “You’re going to be Mine and you’re going to lift Me up and we’re going to have fun together.”
Jim: I mean, at that time, you could have never imagined that. But what a – what a demonstration of faithfulness as a 12-year-old to go in and have your own communion.
Jim: That grips me.
Jim: I mean, that is an awesome thing. And Max, with your experience, whew, sharing that now, at the end here, can I simply ask you to pray for the people who are in pain?
Jim: Man, now with that being raised, it goes well beyond the impact of a pandemic. This may be something that happened to them years ago that they’ve never gotten over. And it’s a pandemic of their soul. It’s robbed them…
Jim: …Of living life abundantly like Jesus said He will give us. And may I just ask you to pray for those in pain right now?
Max: Yeah. Lord Jesus. Oh, Lord. We know that these tragedies, these calamities have a way of bruising and wounding our souls. And I believe, dear Jesus, that You are the Healer. And sometimes You use a physician or a counselor. Sometimes You just show up. We trust You to do what’s right. People are being wounded right now because of this pandemic. They are. And Lord, I know that these – these calamities can create a trauma in our soul deep in our spirit. Lord, please come and protect. Take what is intended as evil. Turn it into something good. We ask You, Lord Jesus, to stand up in the boat and speak to the storm. Because we know this pandemic will not last one day more or less than You desire. So be sovereign over it, dear Father. Until then, we’re in the boat with You even though it gets rocky. We’re – we’re with You and we thank You for being with us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jim: Yeah. Amen. That is so well said and prayed. Thank you so much, Max Lucado. We love you. Thanks for your life and what you stand for. And thank you for being with us.
Max: Well, it’s my honor and I hope we can do it again. It’s a delight. Seemed like we went five minutes. It went so fast.
Jim: It did and that’s a good sign that we were hitting the right thing. So, thank you.
Max: Thank you, my friend.
Jim: All right. Bye.
Max: All the very best.
Jim: And let me turn to you, the listener. Man, what a beautiful prayer that Pastor Max Lucado prayed right there. And we’re here for you. We’ve said it throughout this program. I can’t think of a better title of a book that so many people need right now than You’ll Get Through This. And it fits with so much of what we’re facing today with this pandemic. So many people facing unemployment. So many people facing other destabilizing elements of their life. But God, as Max said. And what a wonderful tool to get back on track emotionally, spiritually. And really, if you can help us with the gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Pastor Max Lucado’s wonderful book to say thank you for helping us do ministry here. And let me say this and I say it often, but if you cannot afford it, we will trust that others will cover the cost of it. We will get the book into your hands. So, make the call and just ask for it even if you don’t have the resources to partner with us in ministry right now.
John: Yeah, reach out to us and let us know how we can help you regardless of your circumstances. There is hope. And Max’s book, of course, as Jim said, is a great starting point for really gaining a handle on all the difficulties of the days. It’s called You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times. Call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY to donate and to get your copy of that great book. We also have it available online, of course, and a number of other terrific resources to help you in your faith walk, in your family relationships regardless of where you’re at. We’ve been here, as Max said during the conversation, over 40 years, and so, we’ve got a lot of terrific help for you. The website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.