A little while back I received a copy of For the Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope by Max Lucado for review [full disclosure: through the Thomas Nelson book review blogger program].

Let me begin by saying that I enjoy Lucado’s narrative story-telling style.  In the past, books like A Gentle Thunder and No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, with their folksly warmth, have been a source of encouragement to me.

Perhaps it is the constraint of the format (For the Tough Times is only 79 small pages), but I struggled with the notion of tackling large and looming theodicy questions (e.g., why do bad things happen to good people, where is God when we’re hurting) with a pocket-sized gift book.

That said, Lucado’s voice still manages to come through.  For example, in his almost lectio divina-like take on the phrase “God is for us,” he encourages us to reflect on each word in that phrase.  Here is the first reflection:

God is for you. Your parents may have forgotten you, your teachers may have neglected you, your siblings may be ashamed of you, but within reach of your prayers is the Maker ofthe oceans. God!

Throughout the book, Lucado points us in the direction of many biblical passages and characters; for those who are struggling and searching for hope, these could be useful resources.