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For the Tough Times For the Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope

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book excerpt

Where is God in Tough Times?

Max Lucado
Author of For the Tough Times – When tragedy strikes, whether personal, national, or global, people wonder how God could allow such things to happen. What can He be thinking? Is God really in control? Can we trust him to run the universe if He would allow this?

It is important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. He occupies another dimension.

My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Make special note of the word like. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours. We aren’t even in the same neighborhood. We’re thinking, Preserve the body; he’s thinking, Save the soul. We dream of a pay raise. He dreams of raising the dead. We avoid pain and seek peace. God uses pain to bring peace. “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve. “Die so you can live,” He instructs. We love what rusts. He loves what endures. We rejoice at our successes. He rejoices at our confessions. We show our children the Nike star with the million-dollar smile and say, “Be like Mike.” God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, “Be like Christ.”

Our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts. Our ways are not like His ways. He has a different agenda. He dwells in a different dimension. He lives on another plane.

The heavens tell the glory of God, and the skies announce what His hands have made.

Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again.
They have no speech or words; they have no voice to be heard.
But their message goes out through all the world; their words go everywhere on Earth. (Psalms 19:1-4)

Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is His résumé. The universe is His calling card. You want to know who God is? See what He has done. You want to know His power? Take a look at His creation. Curious about His strength? Pay a visit to His home address: 1 Billion Starry Sky Avenue. Want to know His size? Step out into the night and stare at starlight emitted one million years ago, and then read II Chronicles 2:6: “No one can really build a house for our God. Not even the highest of heavens can hold him.”

He is untainted by the atmosphere of sin,
        unbridled by the time line of history,
                unhindered by the weariness of the body.

What controls you doesn’t control him. What troubles you doesn’t trouble him. What fatigues you doesn’t fatigue him. Is an eagle disturbed by traffic? No, he rises above it. Is the whale perturbed by a hurricane? Of course not; he plunges beneath it. Is the lion flustered by the mouse standing directly in his way? No, he steps over it.

How much more is God able to soar above, plunge beneath, and step over the troubles of the earth! “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (see Matthew 19:26). Our questions betray our lack of understanding:

How can God be everywhere at one time? (Who says God is bound by a body?)

How can God hear all the prayers that come to him? (Perhaps His ears are different from yours.)

How can God be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? (Could it be that Heaven has a different set of physics than earth?)

If people down here won’t forgive me, how much more am I guilty before a holy God? (Oh, just the opposite. God is always able to give grace when we humans can’t—He invented it.)

How vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. Pray with any lesser conviction, and our prayers are timid, shallow, and hollow. Look up and see what God has done, and watch how your prayers are energized.

This knowledge gives us confidence as we face the uncertain future. We know that he is in control of the universe, and so we can rest secure. But also important is the knowledge that this God in Heaven has chosen to bend near toward earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. He is not so far above us that He is not touched by our tears.

Though we may not be able to see His purpose or His plan, the Lord of Heaven is on His throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives. So we entrust him with our future. We entrust him with our very lives.

Purchase For the Tough Times by Max Lucado.

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Excerpted from For the Tough Times by Max Lucado, Copyright 2008 Thomas Nelson Publishers. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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