I was greatly challenged and inspired by Larry Crabb’s perspective on how we can move through our problems to develop a deeper relationship with God—where He is the focus of our lives, not ourselves or the problems that we want Him to solve for us. The following are quotes from his book Finding God.
“We have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God. Feeling better has become more important to us than finding God.”
“Modern Christians are presented with two options for dealing with our lives: Either we can understand how our souls have been deeply wounded and how to receive God’s healing nourishment, or we can obey God as we would a stern, uninvolved father, and never tell him how bad we hurt. Either our hurt is the point, or it is no point at all. Either our needs matter more than anything else, or it is wrong even to mention them.
We need a third way of handling our lives—a way that combines a passionate sensitivity to our deepest struggles with a tender insistence that something matters more than how we feel. It is healthy to face the pain in our souls, to feel bad when others violate our dignity, to admit to ourselves how desperately we long to feel loved and valued and accepted as we are. But, in the middle of all this, we need to remember that the point of Christianity is not us, but the God who cares for us.
Our hunger does not obligate God. He is not a waiter who, at the snap of our fingers, runs out of heaven’s kitchen loaded down with trays of food to fill our hungry stomachs. With his blood Christ purchased a people for God and made us priests to serve him (Rev. 5:9-10). We exist for him, not the other way around.
But bowing before God, living for his pleasure rather than for ours, does not reduce us to slaves whose personal feelings do not matter. God cares about our hurts. He wants us to enjoy our new identity as unique, forgiven, valuable men and women with something important to contribute. How we feel, how we’ve been treated, what we do, why we do it—everything about our lives is important. We are valuable players in the cosmic drama he directs, and we are not wrong to be concerned with how we’re getting on.
But God matters more. He invites us to enter into relationship with him on his terms. He invites us to join him in achieving his great purpose: the overthrowing of evil and the bringing together of all things in Christ. He invites us, in short, to find him. And he lets us know that in the process of finding him, we’ll find ourselves.
We must, however, do more than superficially agree that finding God is a higher priority than solving our problems. Somehow that purpose must reach into our hearts in the same way that cancer spreads through the body, destroying everything in its way. Until the reality of God crowds out every other reality, until we are moved to know him with a passion that we feel nowhere else, we will not use the struggles of life as an impetus to find God. Until our passion for finding God is deeper than any other passion, we will arrange life according to our taste, not God’s.”
After Larry Crabb’s brother was killed in a plane crash in 1991, his deep pain and grieving over this loss caused him to wrestle with God like he never had before. He cried out “God, I don’t know how to come to you. I need to know you, to sense your presence, to feel your love, more than anything else. But I don’t know what to do. Every path I follow leads me back to me. I must find the way to you! I know you’re all that I have. But I don’t know you well enough to be all I need. Please let me find you.”
His search and what he discovered as he “found God” led to his writing this book (which I highly recommend if you are looking for a soul-searching kind of book to read).
May God help each one of us to come to know Him well enough to be all that we need in whatever struggles we are facing. May God use our problems as an impetus to find Him and to help our passion for Him become deeper than any other passion in our lives. May we know and believe that we exist for Him, not the other way around. And may our desire to find God and to know Him more intimately be greater than our desire to relieve our pain or to solve life’s problems.