I saw this book at a friend’s house, and since I am both a lover of books and a fan of Larry Crabb, I read through this book. It feels very much like Larry Crabb, as there is a lot about pain. He shares about his pain, about other peoples’ pain. About halfway through, I wondered if he had made any progress in the years since Finding God, since he was still talking about deeply suffering. Upon examining the older book, however, it is clear that he has definitely come farther. Finding God shows our unhealthy patterns of relating to God, and moving from doubting God in our pain to trusting in His goodness. Shattered Dreams, however, says something more radical: our shattered dreams are necessary.

Through the story of Naomi, Crabb explores what shattered dreams produce. Our current cultural mindset is that pain is to be avoided, so we have drugs and other instant-fixes. These instant-fixes create an addiction, as we try to satisfy the longing. God longs that we would have the amazing joy that comes from enjoying Him, yet we settle for trying to fill our second-class desires, thinking that it will fulfill us. So God either allows or causes our dreams to shatter. We know that He could have prevented it, so we get mad at Him. But if we learn to trust Him in it, we discover that our heart has a deeper longing, a longing to encounter and to relate to God.

I found the book intruiging because it mirrored my experience with God recently. Instead of giving me a wife to satisfy my longing for intimacy, he has let me wait. After 10 years of being mad at God, it finally occurred to me that this approach wasn’t working and asked Him what He thought about my situation. He responded by revealing the Holy Spirit and through him his love through Psalms and experiences. As I learned His love for, I was able to trust Him more, and as I slowly trust Him more, I can give myself to Him more, and as I give myself to Him more and more completely, I experience more and more of His love, to the point where I can say with the psalmist “Your love is better than life.”

I felt that Crabb takes some liberties in projecting feelings onto Naomi that the text does not warrant, although I do think that he is right in portraying how she moves from being bitter and mad at God to discovering that He is truly Good. Crabb also belabors the point of our pain a bit much. He talks about the problem with satisfying ourselves with secondary desires for most of the book in one way or another. He constantly reminds us that the goal is that we enjoy God’s Presence and Joy, yet only briefly talks about that in the last chapter. Basically, I think the book is about 50% too long, and needs more about God’s Presence, although I guess since God has already led me through the process in the book, perhaps I am not the intended audience...

Crabb is very insightful in seeing what we want and how we try to fill that desire. I would be surprised if anyone can read through the book without seeing themselves in it, or without seeing a little more of why they do what they do. I feel like this will be a really helpful book if you are in a place where your dreams are shattered or at least not coming true, where you have worked through your sin enough to realize that there is a deep problem, but are not sure why or if this will ever end. Too much earlier and there is a risk you may not understand what he is talking about (but, it certainly can’t hurt!). But in that time, this will be an invaluable insight into your addictions and the way out.
Review: 8
Good and insightful content, lots of really pithy lines. Belabors the point too much, though, and should be more condensed. Also, having only one small chapter on experiencing God is a bit disappointing. It makes me wonder if he has fully experienced it yet (as of the 2001 writing), which makes me interested to read Crabb’s subsequent books.