Feeling like you’ve blown it? Reached the point of no return? That your life hasn’t gone as planned? If so, you are not alone. 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, and something more.
Drawing on his own experiences and pivotal Bible stories, author Louie Giglio shows how God is all about comebacks. Samson had blown it repeatedly; nevertheless, he experiences tremendous triumph at the end of his life. The prodigal son, as Jesus describes him, returns home in disgrace only to be welcomed by his father with open arms—no questions asked. The list goes on: Joseph, Moses and Peter all experienced comebacks. Jesus himself performed the greatest comeback of all by rising from the dead.
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 His plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t. He already knows what the solutions are. No matter what kind of disappointment or grief or pain or trouble or heartache we encounter, God always offers a new beginning, a change of heart, and a powerful spiritual turnaround. God offers the way forward, and his pathways are always good.
This six-session video study (DVD/digital video sold separately) proves God can use our mess and still make a masterpiece—and that our current circumstances will not get the final say in our lives.
- A Deeper Kind of Comeback Story
- Paradise in a Garbage Dump
- When Dreams Are Dashed
- Never Too Late
- Get Up
- Jesus Is Enough
Designed for use with The Comeback Video Study (sold separately).
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.38(d)|
About the Author
Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and founder of the Passion Movement, which exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.
Since 1997, Passion has gathered collegiate-aged young people at events across the US and around the world, uniting millions of students in worship, prayer, and justice.
In addition to the collegiate gatherings of Passion Conferences, Louie and his wife, Shelley, lead the teams at Passion City Church, sixstepsrecords, and the Passion Global Institute.
Louie is the author of The Comeback, The Air I Breathe, I Am Not But I Know I Am, Goliath Must Fall, and Indescribable.
Louie and Shelley make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
It's Not too Late and You're Never too Far
By Louie Giglio
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Louie Giglio
All rights reserved.
A DEEPER KIND OF COMEBACK STORY
Everyone loves a good comeback story.
Whether it's a touchdown in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, an impossible recovery from a terminal illness, a group of hostages released safely to the waiting arms of loved ones, or an amputated leg turned into an Olympic gold medal and a world record — we all love comeback stories. Somehow these stories strike a chord in the very core of our being. They make us realize that difficult circumstances do not always get the final say in our lives. They reveal to us that, in the end, our story can be a comeback story too.
Like this one. Maybe you remember this day. I know I do.
The ground shook on January 12, 2010. Buildings collapsed. A massive earthquake rocked the tiny country of Haiti. When the ground stopped shaking, thousands of buildings had been destroyed and some two hundred thousand people were dead.
When I first heard about this tragedy on the news, I couldn't get my mind around those numbers. It was too horrific, too catastrophic. The world responded with widespread humanitarian aid, yet it still felt like there was a gaping hole in the world. Shelley and I had been to Haiti before the earthquake, and the country held a special place in our hearts. I couldn't imagine the pain and grief the people there were going through. I wondered if something more could be done, if there was some way I could enter their story along with them, even in the limited capacity of someone living in another country.
I came to know one man in particular: Ernst Leo, a thirty-five-year-old computer technician. He was at work in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck. He rushed home and found his home destroyed. The worst part was that his wife, Naomie, and his twelve-year-old daughter Faitza were buried in the debris of their collapsed apartment building. Both were dead. Ernst and Naomie had been sweethearts since childhood. Their seven-year-old daughter Therissa was still alive but trapped in the rubble.
For two days Ernst and rescue workers scrambled to free Therissa. Despite their efforts, she was hopelessly pinned beneath a massive concrete slab. Rescuers had no choice: they amputated her right arm to save her life.
When Therissa had healed enough from her wounds, she and her father moved into a tent in a refugee camp on a dead-end street near their destroyed home. All of their belongings fit into a small suitcase. They washed each night from a bucket. A massive restoration effort began across Haiti, but it was projected to take months, even years.
Ernst went back to work. Therissa went back to second grade. In the evenings the father and daughter sat together on broken cinder blocks while Ernst helped Therissa with her schoolwork. She learned to write with her left hand, but it was slow going. Such a great part of their lives had been ruined. Each day they fought to keep going while struggling with internal and external pain. This was their new reality — at the back of life's line.
Six months after the earthquake I hadn't yet met Ernst, and I didn't know his family, but their story pierced my heart. I was reading USA Today on an airplane, and the front-page article focused on Ernst and Therissa and how they were trying to rebuild their lives after the quake. Somehow I could get my mind around one man, one family. Ernst Leo was a middle-class guy just doing his job, loving his family, hoping to make a better way for those he loved most.
It was one of those moments when I couldn't move past the news. I felt face-to-face with this dad who'd lost a wife and a daughter. Face-to-face with this daughter who'd lost a mother, a sister, and an arm. I couldn't come close to solving Haiti's rebuilding challenges. But I could help this one man, this one family. I think I even said the words out loud, "I need to find this guy."
I made some calls and sent some e-mails and finally reached the writer of the newspaper story, who agreed to put me in touch with Ernst. A few weeks later I traveled to Haiti to meet Ernst and Therissa. For them the long-term answer lay in moving, and they were already working with relatives in Miami to immigrate to the United States. Ernst is hardworking and industrious. He wasn't looking for anybody to give him a handout. But he responded to the hand we extended to him, and he thanked us for playing a part in his comeback story.
We were able to help Ernst and Therissa get their own place in Miami and help furnish it. We helped to connect Ernst with churches in the area and bought him a used Camry to get to and from work and school. We found a specialist to fit Therissa with a prosthetic arm. At a Passion conference I told their story to university students who raised more than twenty-two thousand dollars for Therissa's college education. The help wouldn't bring back Naomie and Faitza. But it acted as a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus. I'd like to think it helped change the direction of their journey.
Looking back several years later, I now know why I responded to Ernst's story like I did. It's because I could see myself in his shoes. I could see myself sitting on a broken cinder block, hurting and grieving, wondering which way to go. I could see myself needing a comeback the same as Ernst had.
I've never lost loved ones in an earthquake. But I've experienced deep emotional and spiritual hurt. Low places in life. Times when I chose the wrong direction and needed to find my way back. Times when I wasn't sure how to overcome adversity. Can you relate?
I know a lot of us feel like that. We come to a place where we're walking through the fires and trials of life, and we don't know where to turn. What we need is a fresh start. We need our story to go in a new direction.
What we need is a comeback of our own.
The Start of Hope
The classic comeback story contains one of two twists. It's either about an underdog who falters and then succeeds beyond his dreams, or it's about a champion who falls, fights hard, and makes a big return.
Either way, it's about a person in pain whose pain is alleviated or who is able to see pain in a new perspective. There's a reversal of fortunes. Somebody was on the bottom and now he's on top. Or somebody was up against a great obstacle and now has overcome. Or someone does a dramatic about-face.
Great comeback stories give us hope. We can all relate to the experience of spending time in difficult places where we wondered if we were ever going to make it back. We all know what it feels like to have life disappoint us and not work out as we'd hoped. We've all been in seasons when we've longed for something better than what we're experiencing right now. We could all use a fresh start, a change of heart, or a powerful spiritual turnaround.
What kind of challenge are you facing today?
Maybe you're facing conflict with your friends, coworkers, or relatives. Relationships are strained, and you don't know what to do. You need a comeback to renewed relationships.
Maybe you're struggling to overcome an addiction or some sort of sin. You need a comeback from despair and darkness to victory, strength, and confidence.
Perhaps you're overwhelmed at work. Or you hate your job. Or you can't find a job. Or you feel stuck in a dead-end job and it seems like there's no way forward. You need a fresh perspective, a new direction.
Maybe you're going through a rough season academically, and you wonder if you're ever going to pass this course or graduate. You need a big dose of hope, an infusion of fresh strength.
Perhaps a close relationship (perhaps your marriage) is on the rocks, and you wonder if you're going to make it through. You need to rekindle the love you once felt for each other.
Maybe you have all the money and resources in the world, but your life feels empty and purposeless. You need a new purpose, a bigger purpose than you've ever had before.
Maybe you're grieving deeply because of a great loss. Someone close to you has just died. Or something you once valued is no more. You need perspective in your pain. You need to journey forward in spite of your grief.
Maybe you're in the midst of tragedy. There are no words to describe what you're going through. You just hurt. You need help taking your next breath.
Maybe the problem is a serious and deep disappointment: life hasn't turned out for you the way you hoped it would. You're disillusioned or directionless. You want to know which way to go.
When a difficult season descends on us, sometimes we're there for a short time. But at other times it seems we find ourselves in that season for what seems like forever. Sometimes the end seems to be nowhere in sight. We long for a solution. We long to return to a place where an obstacle isn't a problem anymore.
The good news is that the life Jesus calls us all to enter is a life of comeback. On the one hand, it may be the kind of comeback where we overcome obstacles by God's power. On the other hand, it may be a deeper sort of comeback, where Jesus redeems the worst of circumstances for his glory and our best.
In this latter kind of comeback, maybe the problems we're wrestling with won't be solved — at least not in our lifetimes. Yet God offers us his presence in the middle of our problems. In his presence we find a deeper sort of solution, one that holds forth fulfillment, peace, a knowledge that he provides, and the hope that he has a wider purpose for our lives than we could ever think up or live out on our own.
The big hope ahead is that when we're at a low, God offers us a hand up. He holds forth a better way of living, a way filled with freedom, strength, peace, and Jesus. Through fires and trials, God offers us a closer walk with him.
Welcome to the Story of Us
Have you ever thought about this deeper sort of comeback — the kind of comeback that only God can offer? God offers this comeback to everybody. Just think of some of the remarkable comeback stories in the Bible.
In the story about the garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3, Adam and Eve in paradise had everything they needed. Yet they failed miserably when they ate the forbidden fruit. They needed a comeback. Their problem was that they had believed a lie that many of us believe even today: they thought God was withholding something good from them, so they chose to go in a harmful direction, a direction that was clearly off-limits.
In his grace and mercy, God appeared to Adam and Eve in the midst of their failure. Yes, they suffered the consequences of their sin, and yes, the whole world has experienced those consequences ever since, thanks to Adam and Eve, because we're all in this together. But the mercy of God also came into the garden in a big way, and Adam and Eve experienced a comeback and went on to have a hope and a future and a great story with God. Even after their failure, God did not abandon them. Quite the opposite — God loved them, cared for them, blessed them, and sustained them.
We've all heard the story of Noah's ark in Genesis 6–9. Noah built a big boat, gathered all the animals inside two by two, and also saved a remnant of humanity from complete destruction during a worldwide flood. It's a story we like to tell children because it features fuzzy animals, a rainbow, and a happy ending. But there's more to that story and it's not all nice.
Right after Noah and his family were saved, they climbed out of the boat onto dry ground under a fantastic rainbow. But one of the next things Noah did was plant a vineyard and get drunk. Sure, he saved the world, but Noah also had a major drinking problem, and his actions caused big conflict in his family. Fortunately, that's not all there is to Noah's story. Hebrews 11 describes how Noah became an heir of righteousness in keeping with his faith. Noah had a comeback, and God used Noah powerfully, even after his mistakes.
Abraham's story is told in Genesis 12–23, and he's considered the father of our faith, but he had a waiting problem to the point that he gave up on the promise of God. A son was promised to him, a promise that was renewed when Abraham was an old man. Abraham had wanted a son his whole life. He wanted this son more than anything else in the world. But year after year passed, and no baby was born.
So Abraham tried to make God's plan happen on his own by fathering a child with a maidservant. This wasn't God's idea, and Abraham messed up the plan, yet God still had mercy on him. When Abraham was a hundred years old, his wife gave birth to the promised son, Isaac, who eventually had descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham bailed out on God's plan, but there was a comeback for Abraham, and he was blessed for his faith.
In Exodus, the story of Moses is told. Moses had an anger problem and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. Moses took matters into his own hands the only way he knew how, yet a crime was still a crime, and because of that crime, Moses needed to leave Pharaoh's house, where he'd grown up. Moses was banished to the wilderness, where all he did for years was tend sheep.
Far away from anything, in the backside of life and in the middle of nowhere, a bush caught fire and blazed without burning up. From that burning bush God spoke to Moses and said, "Take heart! I know it looks like life has passed you by, but I'm going to use you to lead my people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land."
Moses had a great comeback story over his anger and failed opportunities. But he also had a speech impediment and lousy self-confidence. He didn't think he could do anything useful for God, but along with his brother, Aaron, he went to Pharaoh and told him to let God's people go. Eventually Pharaoh did that, and the whole nation had a comeback story.
Moses had relapses and disobeyed God a few times after that, and God wouldn't let him go into the Promised Land as a consequence. But in the New Testament, there's a story of Jesus hiking up on a mountain with two of his disciples. There something supernatural happened. Jesus' clothes turned a radiant white, and he shone in brilliant glory in the presence of his disciples. Alongside Jesus two others suddenly appeared, and one of them was Moses, in his all-time most powerful comeback. In the grace of God there is a comeback for people who've already had a comeback and need another.
We could talk about story after story like these. In fact, the entire story of humanity is a story of people who have stumbled and fallen, yet somehow in this ocean of God's grace and mercy, he provides a comeback for anyone who puts their faith and hope in Jesus.
That's what this book is about. In the pages ahead we're going to explore the stories of men and women who have gone through the fires and trials of life and come out believing in the faithfulness and grace of God. These stories show us that no matter what we might be walking through, we can still have confidence that Jesus is the God of the comeback and that our story is not over as long as Jesus is in it.
Everybody needs a comeback, and if we seek God everybody is offered a comeback. No matter what our obstacles are, no matter what mistakes we've made, no matter if we're in a season of wandering or darkness, God's purpose and plan will still prevail.
God is all about restoring us — sometimes now, sometimes in heaven. God has the ability to do anything at any time to restore anything that's been lost. Even if something doesn't look restored now on earth, we're invited to have confidence in God's purposes, and that yields hope and peace for us today.
I know this to be true because I've experienced a comeback personally.
A Song in the Night
A few years back, life was pumping. In a six-month span, Passion hosted events in seventeen global cities. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Yet it also required an enormous amount of leadership and courage, and the toll was greater than I thought. Add to the mix, we were planting a church in Atlanta and dealing with massively challenging circumstances that were swirling around our family. The world economy hit bottom. And, ultimately, so did I.
Excerpted from The Comeback by Louie Giglio. Copyright © 2015 Louie Giglio. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Guide, 9,
SESSION 1: A Deeper Kind of Comeback Story, 11,
SESSION 2: Paradise in a Garbage Dump, 29,
SESSION 3: When Dreams Are Dashed, 49,
SESSION 4: Never Too Late, 67,
SESSION 5: Get Up, 87,
SESSION 6: Jesus Is Enough, 103,
Additional Resources for Group Leaders, 123,