Thus asked the thief on the cross, hanging next to Jesus as they both were dying. It's a question many of us still ask today. When the scan comes back that says cancer, when the friend walks away and doesn't speak to you anymore, when the relationship looks like it will never move forward, when the gravestone stares back at you with all the finality of that death date.
Whatever your spiritual maturity, or even if you're not a believer in the first place, everyone hits those dark moments where life will never be the same. And even though the scars can never be erased, Jesus can take the broken and bring a restoration beyond the pain you started with.
Louie Giglio discusses the question, "Jesus, will you remember me?" along the answer in his newest book, The Comeback.
The Book (from Amazon)
Have you ever longed for a comeback? We all know what it feels like to have life disappoint us and not work out as we'd hoped. We all know what it's like to long for something different, something better, something more. The Comeback celebrates new beginnings. It offers encouragement and perspective, and it's for you if you feel frustrated or confused, if you're sorrowing or in pain, if you've made mistakes or are grieving, if you're disappointed or feel as though life doesn't make sense. The good news is that God is in the business of giving fresh starts to people. He gives hope to the hopeless. Direction to the directionless. Help to those who need help. God is always good, all the time, and God's plans will always prevail, even when our plans don't. God already knows what the solutions are. No matter what kind of disappointment or grief or pain or trouble or heartache you encounter, God always offers a new beginning, a change of heart, or a powerful spiritual turnaround. God offers the way forward, and his pathways are always good. Your current circumstances will not get the final say in your life. God is the God of the comeback, no matter what kind of challenge you're facing. And your story can become a great comeback story too.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I came to this book, except it turned out different than I expected and I can't pinpoint what or why. That's a terrible admission for a professional review, but it is the holiday season and I'm wiped out. However, I found much to inspire, comfort, and think about.
First of all, if you're looking for a deeply Christianese theological book on the disappointments of life, you'll find this one has a different mission focus. It's a blue jeans and mocha kind of book, with a casual conversational style. And that's very intentional. A lot of people need a comeback, not just scholarly book lovers. This book is written to be accessible to a wide variety of people. As a person who is used to going down deep, staying down long, and coming up dry, that took a little bit of adjustment. But I can appreciate the purpose, and value the audience for which it was intended.
My favorite chapters were easily 7 and 8. 7 talks about Peter's comeback, after denying Jesus and going back to his fishing. Jesus comes to him and asks him to eat breakfast. No long talks. No figure things out. Just come and share a meal and settle down. His mercies are new every morning, and he takes a moment to remind Peter of his mercy and faithful provision before gently and squarely telling Peter that it's not about his efforts, and it's never going to be: it's about Jesus working through his failures.
Chapter Eight talks about Jesus being enough: "The sustaining grace you receive in the first moment is different than the grace you receive in the second. And the grace received in the second moment is different than the grace received in the third moment. And in the fiftieth moment. And in the two thousandth moment. And in every moment after that." Jesus offers individualized grace for every different phase and struggle of the dark places we go through. He doesn't offer us someone else's grace, or last month's grace, or even yesterday's grace. The grace I need for this moment. Some things--like death, amputation of a limb, etc.--are things from which a comeback can never restore to what was. But Jesus is enough, in himself, even through that loss. Giglio also says there will be hard days even after the comeback. Many times the comeback is a process after the initial moment of release and turnaround.
In chapter eleven, Giglio talks about our identity as believers, using Paul's introduction to the Ephesians. Even starting the epistle with the word "Paul" packs a huge comeback into a name. The persecutor of the church was now an apostle of God. Paul writes to the Ephesians as "saints in Christ Jesus". Giglio points out that he could have called them "sinners saved by grace". But that's not what their identity was anymore. Christ Jesus turns us into saints. And we live up to our identity. Instead of focusing on what we were, we need to focus on what we now are in Christ. Giglio says, "If you go around thinking of yourself as a sinner saved by grace, then it becomes highly likely that you'll see yourself primarily as a sinner first and saved by grace second. And when you go around calling yourself a sinner, you're much more likely to act like a sinner, even if you're saved by grace." In other words, you live up to your identity. I think I need to update my terminology.
Much to inspire and to think about, and packed with examples of people from Scripture and real life who hit bottom and turned around again. I appreciate Louie Giglio's ministry to people in hurting places.
I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.