Lawrence Crabb Jnr. is one of the most popular writers and speakers in Christian psychology. He sees the church as a powerful vehicle for God-centred psychological healing. His most recent book, "God of My Father", is a very powerful personal description of his family's struggle to know contentment in a personal knowledge of God. For a person wanting to get into his psychological writings, this is probably the best book to read. Crabb's psychological theories are not necessarily new, but he certainly does give us an insight into the self.
We yearn for happiness, "all I want is to be happy". Happiness is not easy to define, but probably it is something like contentment. We just want to be at ease with ourselves and our environment, and the trouble is, we're not.
Humanity is not at ease with the self because we are not at ease with God. Until we rest in him, we cannot rest. Until we know the living God, we cannot know ourselves. Crabb suggests that even believers can remain disturbed by failing to understand the doctrine of God the creator. We can wrongly assume that God is there for us rather than we are created for him. Such a view will inevitably cause dysfunction. When trouble strikes, we find God's goodness undermined. We are forced to ask, "Why did God allow this to happen to me?" Still, I would add that God did create us, not so much for himself, but rather that we may enjoy him. From his perspective he is there for us, for he is a self-giving God. The problem of pain remains, but God's goodness transcends it, although in mystery. A knowledge of God's love for his creation does bring restful contentment.
Another area of great disturbance for the human psyche is guilt. Everyone wants to be rid of pain, of trouble, particularly the pain within, but few are willing to admit the guilt of their own sin. The human condition makes it difficult for us to accept responsibility for our actions. Someone else is always to blame, and this because we cannot deal with the guilt of our own failure. Crabb rightly emphasizes the power of justification by faith. God finds us in our lostness and forgives us unconditionally, not just for the now, but for eternity, not just for past and present failings, but even for the sin of tomorrow. This cleansing of guilt in Jesus is probably the most powerful agent for psychological healing. When we know God's forgiveness we can forgive ourselves.
So just in these two truths, namely, God's positive view of creation and his unconditional mercy toward the fallen, we can find great contentment.