Book Review: When God’s Ways Make No Sense, by Dr. Larry Crabb
How often do we soften Scripture to make it more pleasing? Are we more interested in a comfortable life than a Christian life? Have we not heard the call to radical discipleship? Have we reduced it to an easier call to follow?
These are among the many questions Dr. Larry Crabb wrestles with in his latest book, When God’s Ways Make No Sense. Using the stories of Jonah, Saul (before he became Paul), and Habakkuk, Dr. Crabb explains that we typically resort to one of three options when life is hard and we don’t receive the answers we want from God.
When God’s thoughts and ways make no sense to us, we Christians are confronted with three options.
- Resist and Run. Determine to follow God when we like the direction He leads. But when we don’t, when His thoughts and ways seem to be taking us away from the life we want for ourselves, then we feel justified in resisting His input and running off to do whatever better fits our ideas of a good way to live. Like Jonah. This option is illustrated in the life of a prophet who was enraged at God’s plan.
- Distort and Deny. Arrange our understanding both of how God thinks about our lives and of how He lovingly moves into them so that it matches our perception of how a loving God should think and move. Deny Scripture that contradicts what we want to believe about God. Revise our theology of God’s good news into principles for living that make obedience to God comfortable—comfortable obedience that we assume will bring satisfying blessings into our lives. Like Saul. Before he became Paul, he distorted the Old Testament’s message into what he wanted it to say and denied the value of passages that contradicted his distortion.
- Tremble and Trust. Sit under the Bible. Hear whatever God is saying. When we realize that God’s way of running the world and guiding our lives makes no sense, tremble. Tremble before a God whose thoughts and ways are far above our thoughts and ways about what the truly good life is and how to live it. Feel our confusion. Own our doubts. Embrace our fears. Face our disappointment. Experience our anguish.
Then trust. Trust the Judge of the earth to do right, to always advance purpose we will one day gladly agree were good. Accept that no one can fully unravel the mystery of prayer. Choose to live by faith in God’s goodness, to deny authority to what our dim eyes can see. With the eyes of faith, gaze on the unfolding story of God that with the eyes of sight we may not recognize as a story of love. Humble ourselves. Confess our pride. We think we know more than we do.
Tremble before the incomprehensible God and trust that He is good. Trust that His love is committed to our growing awareness of the deepest and happiest well-being that’s available to us now, that His love will lead us into an eternity where we will know every delight we were created to enjoy. Gaze on the cross. Remember Christ’s death. Nowhere is the love of the incomprehensible God more fully and clearly displayed.
But always remember: tastes now, the full banquet later. Tremble before what our eyes can see and our hearts can feel. Trust in what our faith can believe, that the longed-for satisfaction of our deepest thirst lies ahead. Like Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s story illustrates what it looks like to respond well when God’s ways make no sense.
Part 1 of the book lays out the stories of Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk. Part 2 explores the concept of trembling and how it is the gateway to trust. Part 3 explains the necessity of trusting in God’s unthwarted sovereignty. Part 4 offers three parables of what a modern-day Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk look like now.
The book is thoroughly biblical, challenging, and thought provoking. You may not agree with everything the author says or his concept of God’s sovereignty, but the book will cause you to reexamine your view of God. Well worth the read.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.