Larry Crabb. A Different Kind of Happiness. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016. 245 pp. $13.24
These days, happiness appear to be a hot topic. David Murray packaged several books about happiness under the title, A Bundle of Joy: Six Books on Christian Happiness. And Randy Alcorn made a very important contribution with his book, Happiness. Larry Crabb’s new book, A Different Kind of Happiness is a welcome addition and offers new insights which will encourage readers in their Christian journeys.
Crabb presents the purpose of the book at the outset: “To think through what it means to really love and to explore the truth that sets us free to relate closer to the way we wish we could, to love like Jesus.”
Four questions drive the book and help fulfill the purpose presented above:
- Is there a kind of love, a better kind, that brings joy when it is given, not when it meets with a satisfying response from another?
- Is there a kind of happiness that survives both the most damaging relational pain caused by another and the most discouraging and devastating of circumstances?
- Is there a connection, a cause-effect relationship, between offering undistorted love and experiencing strong happiness?
- Is Jesus-like happiness as a good feeling, or is it better known as a living and sustaining reality, an awareness of both loving life as it should be lived and a freedom to do so?
Crabb suggests two kinds of happiness:
“Second-thing happiness” is what we experience when life goes well. We feel blessed. We feel happy. Goals are achieved, spiritual disciplines are practiced. Ministry takes place. All these things lead to a feeling of happiness.
“First-thing happiness” is experiencing the joy of Jesus. It is the happiness that Jesus experienced during his earthly ministry. It is the joy that came as he freely gave of himself. We too, experience this kind of joy as we share the overflow of Jesus in our own lives.
A Different Kind of Happiness guides readers on the narrow path in pursuit of the kind of life that Jesus delights in giving his people. This is a weighty book, packed with personal reflection and pain. Crabb writes with a stunning degree of transparency, rarely found among Christian authors these days. He wrestles with doubt, loss, illness, adversity, and uncertainty.
Crabb is candid about the opposition he has received over the years. A few observations that may help critics, both in the past and the present include:
- An emphasis on the gospel that is unapologetic.
- An alignment with the New England Puritans.
- A radically God-centered orientation.
- A repudiation of the secular counseling model.
These observations should go a long way in appeasing Crabb’s critics and invite a new audience of readers that may have been frightened away by any negative reviews.
I don’t agree with everything Larry Crabb writes. But one thing he does: he makes me think. He makes me ponder. He asks difficult questions. This book is no exception. I invite readers to read Dr. Crabb’s latest work. Some quiet reflection and time to ponder the principles here will prompt deep encouragement and lead to a different kind of happiness.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.