All true passion is born out of anguish.

David Wilkerson

I saw this in a video/audio sermon on utube. The sermon is powerful. Not the type of communication I usually appreciate (a little too angry and preacher-y) but every once in a while people should get angry, right?

Anyway, I like this. I don’t know that it’s always true (romantic love comes to mind—love certainly strengthened by shared anguish but not universally birthed in the throngs of pain). Still, I think it’s always true for the Christian.

Christianity itself was born in Christ’s anguish and each Christian’s individual walk is born in anguish (“I’ve been crucified with Christ,” Paul says). And when that hurt is overwhelming, transformation is total and flesh-destroying. We are so convicted that we can’t help but change everything, reject the world—every crumb of it we find in the folds and crevices of our lives.

At Horizons this week, I asked my girls to tell me why they follow Christ, and, almost unanimously, they were silent. And while the few answers I got were logical and good, none were passionate. I worry that if I’d asked why they liked their boyfriends the answers might have been more gushing.

I think the reason is missing anguish.

When you grow up with Jesus it’s hard to relate to the parables about finding treasure in a field. When you’ve grown up rich, it’s hard to get excited about accepting your inheritance. Not that it’s not possible. It’s just hard, hard to fully understand the scope, the bigness, of what God’s done for you. “He who is forgiven little…”

My passion for God was born out of anguish, on a small scale—but still. I was eight and I cried all day before being baptized after a Sunday night sermon. I was more than uncomfortable with my life, I was in pain.

But true anguish came later. My brother’s death is only a single example, a moment of hurt so intense, so total, that I had  but two options: run away from God or run to God. Passion was inevitable.