So I’ve been working through my share of books related to grief, joy, ambition (or lack thereof) the last couple of years. I’m only months away from marking the one-year anniversary of holding Malachi’s lifeless body in my arms. Some days it seems like just yesterday and others like it’s been ages. So weird.
All that to say I wasn’t so sure what to expect when I started thumbing through the pages of this book. Honestly, I don’t really know one way or another if it merits a recommendation or not—the subject of suffering is hard to grasp. There were a few things I definitely would like to point out though. Dr. Crabb approaches this topic from the following pretenses: (1) God wants to bless you, (2) The deepest pleasure we’re capable of experiencing is a direct encounter with God, (3) He uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God. At this point, I was still unsure of how he would move forward. He begins with some illustrations that I didn’t really have the time for (like I said, I’ve read my share of grief books) and I just wanted him to get into the thick of it (maybe it’s the academic part of me). I’m glad I kept reading. I didn’t discover any life-altering truths or new ways of dealing with or handling the pain, but I liked his take on things and he wasn’t afraid of addressing the hard facts like God’s ability to prevent our suffering.
I also appreciated his comparisons of Buddhism and Christianity. Unfortunately, I see a lot of the tenets of Buddhism played out in American “Christianity”. Crabb states, “We Christians are often practicing Buddhists. We kill desire in an effort to escape pain, then wonder why we don’t enjoy God” (p. 60). This comparison was something I hadn’t yet considered, yet I see it play out in our churches so often. Sad, really.
One last thing I appreciated in the book Shattered Dreams was Crabb’s thoughts regarding the story of Naomi. Many times I have worked through the book of Ruth and been negative toward Naomi and her actions and her attitude without putting too much thought into the fact that she had watched her entire family die—her husband and both her sons. I suppose I should reread that story now that I have eyes that see things quite differently.
All in all, it was a good read about a very, very hard topic.
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.