Ep. 24 – God Will Help You: Scriptural Insights from a Christian Pastor
The message of this book is clear—God will help you! Learn about the power and grace of Jesus Christ and why you can count on Him for help.
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- God Will Help You is an inspirational Christian book by pastor Max Lucado published in 2020
- About Max Lucado
- “Max Lucado is a pastor, speaker, and best-selling author. His message is for the hurting, the guilty, the lonely, and the discouraged: God loves you; let him.”
- Count on Christ
- Before the Savior miraculously fed the five thousand, the disciples “counted the hungry people, the money in their bag, and the amount of bread and fish. They did not, however, count on Christ.”
- “The next time you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of the One who is standing next to you. You aren’t alone. You aren’t without help. What bewilders you does not bewilder him. Your uphill is downhill for him. … Give him what you have, offer thanks, and watch him go to work.”
- Keep your gaze on Jesus
- The author compares the story of Peter walking on water to him focusing on his doctor’s diplomas after receiving a difficult diagnosis
- “God has hung his diplomas in the universe. Rainbows, sunsets, horizons, and star-sequined skies. He has recorded his accomplishments in Scripture. … His résumé includes Red Sea openings. Lions’ mouths closings. Goliath topplings. Lazarus raisings. Storm stillings and strollings. His lesson is clear. He’s the commander of every storm.”
- Acknowledge the Savior’s humanity
- When we “keep the humanity out of the incarnation,” Jesus Christ is “easier to handle that way. … But don’t do it. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world, for only if we let him in can he pull us out.”
- The series “The Chosen” is a great example of portraying Christ as a real person, which helps us feel more connected to Him
- Be grateful for God’s grace
- “Jesus has seen every backstreet, back-seat, backhanded moment of our lives. And he has resolved, ‘My grace is enough. I can cleanse these people. I will wash away their betrayals.’ For that reason we must make the Upper Room of Mercy our home address.”
- The lyrics to “I Stand All Amazed” beautifully express gratitude for the Savior’s sacrifice and grace
- Think about the “storms” in your life right now. Then think about this: What has God accomplished—both in the scriptures and in your own life—that shows His power and love and ability to help you?
Today’s book is a total gem that I randomly stumbled upon and couldn’t help but share with you. Listen as pastor Max Lucado makes the scriptures come alive, drawing powerful lessons from them about the power, humanity, and grace of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I’m Liz Kazandzhy, and you’re listening to the cozy little podcast “Latter-day Saint Book Nook,” where we talk about books from a gospel perspective. Whether fiction or nonfiction, religious or not, great books are like wells of wisdom just waiting to be drawn from, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. So if you love books, and you love the gospel of Jesus Christ, you’re in the right place. Come and learn from the best books to help you live your best life!
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Alright, so today’s episode is about a book I randomly found called God Will Help You. And when I say randomly, I mean that quite literally. I discovered that in the Libby app, which is the ebook and audiobook platform that the library uses, there’s actually a random feature when you search. So I used that, and I saw this book and thought it was worth checking out, and it turned out to be super good! And as I was listening, I thought, “Man, this would make a great Book Nook episode,” and so here I am.
About Max Lucado
Alright, so this is an inspirational Christian book written in 2020 by a well-known pastor, Max Lucado. And as I was looking up more info about him, I came across this description on his website:
Max Lucado is a pastor, speaker, and best-selling author who, in his own words, “writes books for people who don’t read books.” He serves the people of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and his message is for the hurting, the guilty, the lonely, and the discouraged: God loves you; let him.
I really liked that, and it really reminded me that there are so many good people outside of our Church. And I know that should really go without saying, but I wanted to say it anyway. There may be some who kind of steer clear of material that comes from other churches, preferring to stick with, you know, official Church resources or at the very least material from Church members. But there’s so much truth that can be gleaned from those in other churches, and even non-Christian religions. As one BYU professor wrote: “As Latter-day Saints, we recognize that we have very defined parameters for establishing official doctrine, but we don’t believe that we have a corner on the market of truth or inspiration. We believe that all people on earth are God’s beloved children and that He communicates with them too, wanting all to return to him and enjoy the blessings of the fulness of his glory. He gives experiences and insights and revelation to all kinds of people.”
So that’s something I think is important to keep in mind. And, at least in my opinion, it is perfectly fine—and beneficial—to read books like this one, written by a non-Latter-day Saint pastor. The only caveat I would add is to read with the Spirit so that, if there are doctrinal differences between what you read and what the Church teaches, you’ll be able to discern those and not err because of them.
Okay, so let’s go ahead and get into the book. It’s a pretty short one—about 3 hours long for the audiobook—and it’s divided into 10 chapters that start with “God Will Help You”—for example God will help you when you feel anxious, God will help you when you feel stuck, God will help you in your everyday life, and so on. A lot of the chapters are structured around scripture stories, and the author definitely has a gift for expressing himself. So for today, I just picked out four passages that were really touching to me that I thought you would enjoy as well.
Count on Christ
Alright, so the first passage I want to share comes from chapter 2: “God will help you solve your problems.” And he shares the story of Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes. It’s a story pretty much every Christian is familiar with, but I love the way he describes this scene. This is what he said:
[In John 6, notice] the thrice-repeated phrase “all these people.”
1. Jesus’ question: “Where can we buy enough bread to feed all these people?” (v. 5)2. Philip’s response: “Several thousand dollars’ worth of bread wouldn’t be enough to give even a tiny bite to all these people!” (v. 7)
3. Andrew’s idea to start with the boy’s lunch, but then: “What are these things [loaves and fishes] when there are all these people?” (v. 9)
[So,] what is your version of “all these people”?
It might be something as pedestrian as “all these diapers” or “all this homework” or “all these long days.” Or it might be as disrupting as “all this dialysis,” “all this depression,” or “all these bills.”
Whatever it is, the demand outstrips the supply, and you are left feeling as hopeless as Philip and as meager as Andrew. We’d like to think the followers would respond with more faith. After all, they’d seen water turned into wine and a lame man walk. We’d like to see more spunk, more grit. More “We can’t, but you can, Jesus!” But they and the silent others showed no spark. They counted the hungry people, the money in their bag, and the amount of bread and fish. They did not, however, count on Christ.
That is such a powerful lesson and phrase that is going to stick with me for a long time. We count our trials, we count our temptations, we count the obstacles in our way, but in the midst of it all, do we count on Christ? Do we trust that His grace will be sufficient to conquer all these problems? Because it is! And just like all were fed on that hillside, all your problems can be managed with the help of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God. As the author went on to say:
The next time you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of the One who is standing next to you. You aren’t alone. You aren’t without help. What bewilders you does not bewilder him. Your uphill is downhill for him. He is not stumped by your problem. … You may feel outnumbered, but he does not. Give him what you have, offer thanks, and watch him go to work.
Keep your gaze on Jesus
Alright, so my next thought comes from chapter 3: “God will help you through your fears.” This chapter is built around the story of Christ walking on the Sea of Galilee and Peter walking toward him, until of course he took his gaze off the Savior and looked at the storm instead and began to sink. And after recounting this episode, the author shares a somewhat similar experience of when he was diagnosed with a difficult heart condition. He was told to wait in his doctor’s office as the cardiologist finished reviewing his tests, and this is what he said about his experience:
I went in, took a seat, and quickly noticed the doctor’s abundant harvest of diplomas. They were everywhere, from everywhere. One degree from the university. Another degree from a residency.
The more I looked at his accomplishments, the better I felt. I’m in good hands. About the time I leaned back in the chair to relax, his nurse entered and handed me a sheet of paper. “The doctor will be in shortly,” she explained. “In the meantime he wants you to acquaint yourself with this information. It summarizes your heart condition.”
I lowered my gaze from the diplomas to the summary of the disorder. As I read, contrary winds began to blow. Unwelcome words like atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, embolic stroke, and blood clot caused me to sink into my own Sea of Galilee.
What happened to my peace? I was feeling much better a moment ago. So I changed strategies. I counteracted diagnosis with diplomas. In between paragraphs of bad news, I looked at the wall for reminders of good news. That’s what God wants us to do.
His call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance. We aren’t to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings. We’re to counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments. Do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus.
And a little later, he writes this:
God has hung his diplomas in the universe. Rainbows, sunsets, horizons, and star-sequined skies. He has recorded his accomplishments in Scripture. … His résumé includes Red Sea openings. Lions’ mouths closings. Goliath topplings. Lazarus raisings. Storm stillings and strollings.
His lesson is clear. He’s the commander of every storm. Are you scared in yours? Then stare at him.
Usually when I share a quote from a book, I then give my own commentary, but that was so wonderfully, brilliantly written that I feel like I have nothing more to add. I just loved that so much.
Well, that was passage number two out of four, so let’s go ahead and take a quick break here.
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Alright, let’s move on to the last two passages.
Acknowledge the Savior’s humanity
So this next quote is from chapter 5: “God will help you when you feel lonely,” and it’s about Christ’s humanity. And I feel like in the Church, we have a pretty good understanding of this, at least intellectually. Like it says in the Book of Mormon, we understand that the Savior “[went] forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” and took upon him “the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11). And that’s why He’s able to comfort us with such perfect empathy and compassion. But I feel like we could do better at recognizing how human He really was. And this quote helped me do that. The author says this:
For thirty-three years, [Jesus] felt everything you and I have felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He got colds, burped, and had body odor. His feelings got hurt. His feet got tired. And his head ached.
To think of Jesus in such a light is . . . well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.
He’s easier to handle that way. Something about keeping him divine also keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.
But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world, for only if we let him in can he pull us out.
I loved that quote, especially the last part: “Let him be as human as he intended to be.” Let Him into the mire and muck of your life, for only if you let him in can He pull you out.
Also, I couldn’t help but think of the TV series “The Chosen” when I read this, because one of the beautiful things about the show is how it shows Jesus Christ as a real person, just as it shows His disciples as real people. And there are some people who actually don’t like “The Chosen” specifically because of that. And on one hand, I get it—I mean, there’s a fine line there, and someone could easily go too far and portray Him in a way that’s too human and not divine enough.
But still, I for one am glad for the reminder that Jesus Christ was a human being—someone just like me, with all sorts of mortal problems that He managed to overcome, which makes me think that maybe I can overcome my problems too, at least with His help.
Be grateful for God’s grace
Alright, so this last quote comes from chapter 10, “God will help you forgive,” and it’s about grace. And the author starts out with the story of the Last Supper when Jesus Christ washed the feet of His apostles. And this is what he says.
How much time do you think this cleansing required? Supposing Jesus took two or three minutes per foot, this act would have taken the better part of an hour. Keep in mind, Jesus was down to his final minutes with his followers. If his three years with them were measured by sand in an hourglass, only a few grains had yet to fall. Jesus chose to use them in this silent sacrament of humility.
Later that night the disciples realized the enormity of this gesture. They had pledged to stay with their Master, but those pledges melted like wax in the heat of the Roman torches. When the soldiers marched in, the disciples ran out.
I envision them sprinting until, depleted of strength, they plopped to the ground and let their heads fall forward as they looked wearily at the dirt. That’s when they saw the feet Jesus had just washed. That’s when they realized he had given them grace before they even knew they needed it.
Jesus forgave his betrayers before they betrayed him.
[And] hasn’t he done the same for us? … Before we knew we needed grace, we were offered it.
Suppose I were somehow to come into possession of your sin-history video. Every contrary act. Every wayward thought. Every reckless word. Would you want me to play it on a screen? By no means. You’d beg me not to. And I would beg you not to show mine.
Don’t worry. I don’t have it. But Jesus does. He’s seen it. He’s seen every backstreet, back-seat, backhanded moment of our lives. And he has resolved, “My grace is enough. I can cleanse these people. I will wash away their betrayals.” For that reason we must make the Upper Room of Mercy our home address.
Isn’t that just powerful? I feel like I have nothing to add to that other than to express how grateful I am for my Savior and what He has done for me and continues to do every single day. The fact that He knows all my worst parts, and sees all my worst moments, and still loves me is mindboggling to me but also amazing. And actually, I just thought of the hymn “I Stand All Amazed,” which really expresses my feelings right now after reading that quote.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
Well, just as a refresher, in today’s episode I talked about counting on Christ even when circumstances look bleak, keeping your gaze on Jesus in the midst of life’s storms, recognizing the Savior’s humanity to help you with your own, and being grateful for God’s grace that He offers through His Son Jesus Christ. What a wonderful book—God Will Help You—and how true it is.
My takeaway invitation for you after this episode has to do with that story of Max Lucado looking at his doctor’s diplomas, combined of course with the story of Peter walking on the water. And I invite you to first think about the storms in your life right now—and maybe even write them down. And then answer this one question: What evidence is there that God will help you in your storms?
In other words, what has God accomplished—both in the scriptures and in your own life—that shows His power and love and ability to help you? And my hope is that when you compare God’s power to your problems, you’ll have greater peace and a greater desire to stay near to Him.
Well, that’s all for today. Come back next time to hear about another chapter of The Holy Ghost from A to Z, and until then, have a wonderful week!
Thanks for listening to Latter-day Saint Book Nook, hosted by Liz Kazandzhy! If you enjoyed this episode and you’d like to support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. You can also visit ldsbooknook.com to stay up to date with me and the podcast. Thanks again, and I’ll talk to you next time!