Roy Exum: So, Things Are Bad This Year?

Sunday, December 22, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

So this will be your first Christmas alone since your wife ran off with the youth pastor? Or maybe this might be your last one because the latest round of chemo didn’t work. Or you said something really stupid to a pretty secretary at work and not only got yourself canned, now the bank account is dry and your kids still won’t speak. Maybe this year’s Christmas dinner will be a cold bowl of cereal with a place setting for one.

Let me let you in on a secret. You are hardly alone. For some this Christmas will be the day of the year that they have dreaded the most ever since the wheels first fell off. For others, ones who have already endured a broken Christmas or two, this Wednesday will only add to the anguish. Trust me, those who struggle and walk among us all share just one Christmas wish – that our happiest holiday would just hurry up and get over with.

A psychiatrist once explained to me why there are more suicides at Christmas than at any other time of the year. “Hurting people look around and see laughing children, sparkling glitter, bright lights and festive parties yet they feel nothing. They are totally flat. They hurt so badly that they are clinically unable to become part of it … they feel ostracized and instead of seeking help, they make the worst decision of their life.”

Just three days ago the delightful Ned Vizzini, who so brilliantly wrote a humorous book about his depression that Hollywood made "It's Kind of a Funny Story" into a wonderful movie, took his life at age 32. Vizzini’s autobiography has helped hundreds of thousands who struggle with the mental disease, yet he will be buried during this Christmas Week.

No one has to tell me; it’s real. So wouldn’t you know that Max Lucado’s newest book just came in my mail? It is so wonderful that last Thursday I read two more chapters at 3 o’clock in the morning, waiting on some pain medicine to kick in. So help me, I think Lucado’s book did more than the pill. You see, it has a guaranteed promise as its bold title: “You’ll Get Through This” and the subtitle to the best book this Christian genius has ever written is: “Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times.”

Oh my goodness, doctors around the country should freely prescribe this book and best friends, those who are the first to realize when someone’s laugh is a little too light, need to deliver it before the end of this very day. Sunday School classes should read it together, as well as bunk mates in the county jail. Over 100 million people around the world have already read Max Lucado’s books and, believe me, “You’ll Get Through This” is chock full of some of the best advice and sheer wisdom I have ever read.

Time and time again, as Max uses illustrations of fellow strugglers to guide us through the pages, his message is always constant: “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It’s won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”

Oh … there’s that God word. (Click, you out of here, Milo?) But wait… please wait. Yes, Max Lucado is a very famous preacher but this book, like so many others of his, is written just as much for the unchurched as it is for believers with faith. I happen to know that some Christians struggle mightily with depression – it is one of the devil’s favorite tools

Yet I believe a bad mistake that a hurting struggler makes when things go sour in a fast-running current is ignoring quick help while waiting on the right rope. No sir, you grab anything that might work and I’ll promise anyone, regardless of faith or their belief, that the lessons in “You’ll Get Through This” will help them cope when they wind up in a dark corner.

The book’s theme is centered around the life of Joseph, the guy with the coat of many colors whose brothers sold him into slavery before he “got through it” and became the second most-powerful ruler of Egypt. Max brilliantly tells the Bible’s story as if you’ve never heard it before and Lucado’s story-telling ability is priceless, most especially if you happen to have a heart that is so heavy right now it will need a jump-start about the middle of this week.

Another promise I can make is that you will meet some people in this book whose yoke is far heavier than the one you may be forced to wear right now. And, guess what? They all get through it. The God I worship doesn’t want you to suffer. He enabled wise men to make good depression medicines for when the black dog begins to circle. I know all about it. That’s why I am so wild over this book.

Max writes, “God gets us through stuff. Through the Red Sea onto dry ground (Ex. 14:22), through the wilderness (Deut. 29:5), through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4) and through the deep sea (Ps. 77:19). Through is a favorite word of God’s:

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

Another great paragraph from Max: “In the chaos called ‘Joseph’s life,’ I count one broken promise, at least two betrayals, several bursts of hatred, two abductions, more than one attempted seduction, ten jealous brothers, and one case of poor parenting. Abuse. Unjust imprisonment. Twenty-four months of prison food. Mix it all together and let it sit for thirteen years and what do you get? The greatest bounce-back in the Bible!”

Please, if you’ve got a bruised soul don’t give up any hard-earned ground this Christmas – you’ll get through this. Even if you never see the book, or if you are scared somebody might see you reading something “religious,” remember this one simple thing because if you haven’t yet withstood life’s turbulence, it has a way of not leaving anybody out. We all go through it at some time or another.

So remember this above all else: “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It’s won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”

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