Bestselling author Max Lucado understands that the Christian community is emotionally weary following a contentious presidential election, deep divisions within the Church and a pandemic.
“The challenges we’ve faced have the potential to undo us,” Lucado, leader of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, told The Christian Post. “Let’s not underestimate the fact that we're all suffering from a mild case of PTSD. We've just been beaten up. We've sustained some trauma from all the experiences that we've gone through, and it's come at us from all angles.”
But it’s in times like this, the 66-year-old author contended, that God’s “quiet providence” is most at work.
“Relief and rescue will come, deliverance will come,” he stressed. “God gets His people through things. He always does. The question is not, 'Will God rescue His people.' The question is, 'Will you be a part of it?'”
In his latest book, You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today, Hope for Tomorrow, Lucado details how the biblical story of Esther highlights how “God is still on the throne, God still has His people, God will still glorify Himself” amid cultural upheaval.
“This book was born in a season of winter,” he said. “We’re all searching for springtime. Everything about Esther’s story is a reminder that God is working in our story, and He's gradually protecting His people working things toward His desired outcome.”
In his book, Lucado shares how Esther’s story parallels that of many Christians today. It’s ultimately a “story about people trying to maintain faith in a foreign land,” Lucado said, adding: “We all can relate to that. We feel like we're on the outside looking in, many times, in our culture.”
“It’s an odd time in which we live,” he added. “The irony is not lost on me. They are all about pluralism. Accept everything — except those of us who are not about pluralism. It’s just the oddest thing.”
Initially, the pastor pointed out, Esther and Mordecai “kind of blew it.” Both, problematically, found success in a foreign land by hiding their Jewish identity.
“I think that's just pretty remarkable how they blended in,” he said. “They were so Persian in appearance, language, accent and culture. They had completely assimilated, so much so that nobody knew that they were Jewish. Now, there's a picture of people today. We can assimilate so much into the culture around us that people don't know about our faith.”
But ultimately, both Mordecai and Esther resurrected their faith and revealed they were Jewish — and because of their courage, they saved a nation.
“It could have been a massive Holocaust,” Lucado said. “But God reversed what was certain death and turned it into certain life. The villain ends up being impaled on the very tool of torture and execution that he created for Mordecai and Queen Esther. The Jews, who were about to be destroyed, end up going to battle against those who are going to destroy them and they come out victorious. Now, we have one of the greatest stories in the Bible.”
“Just when things seem to be terrible, God’s people come out victorious,” he said.
Though His fingerprints are on every page of the story, the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther — something Lucado believes is significant.
“If you're going through a tough season, if you're going through a hard stretch, you don't hear God's name in your story, either,” he said. “I think that's one of the messages here, that God speaks loudest when He whispers in our lives.”
Lucado, who has been married to his wife, Denayn, for 40 years, is no stranger to trials. In September, the pastor announced he was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm, something he acknowledged in a message to supporters is a “serious” condition. In July, the grandfather tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.
More broadly, the pastor told CP that he’s “chagrined” by the recent, public downfall of his ministry peers, most publicly Ravi Zacharias.
“Nobody is more chagrined than I am over the fall of many of my colleagues, men of my age. We should be setting the example for the Church, and yet we've seen many stumble,” he said. “I do believe that for everyone that stumbles there are three hundred that are faithful. But we tend to focus on the ones that stumble, and rightly so because they bring embarrassment upon the Church.”
He’s also dismayed by the racial divides seen across the U.S. — “we can’t just dismiss these deep wounds that exist,” he said — as well as the apathetic attitude many professing Christians have toward Church attendance in the aftermath of a pandemic.
“I think there are a thousand reasons for us to meet in person,” he said. “Now, if somebody has health concerns, if their body or health is compromised, it's not time. God bless you, I understand. But I am wanting to give a godly kick in the rump to those who might just be a little bit lethargic,” Lucado said.
It's evident, he said, that “sin and secularization” are increasingly permeating culture. Yet, the pastor emphasized that the Bible was “written for times like these.”
“We forget that the Bible was written by and for people who were a minority in their culture,” he said. “God is already doing a great work through you. You're the salt of the Earth. You're the light of the world. Instead of getting mad, I’m just going to get focused on loving people and trying to encourage the Church and trusting God to walk us through.”
In uncertain times, Lucado challenged believers to read the book of Esther and be “arrested by the presence of God’s quiet providence.” Her story, Lucado said, is a reminder that “God is working in our story” even when it’s not evident.
“His fingerprints are on every page of your story,” he said. “Let's just stay focused on the big story. The big story is God's grace, His defeat of death, the Easter celebration, the return of Christ. Keep these big things the big things. Let them change you. Just trust Him.”
You Were Made for This Moment is now available.