When I Don’t Desire God–by John Piper

Posted: December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

WhenIDon'tDesire_PiperEvery semester at Bethlehem College and Seminary, students in the seminary are required to take a practical theology course. Part of that course includes reading an assigned book written by John Piper. The second year seminary guys are assigned When I Don’t Desire God. This volume is a companion to the seminal work of Piper, Desiring God. I started the book on Monday afternoon and completed it Thursday around noon. What follows are a few random thoughts on what I have read.

First, one of the biggest and most significant ideas that Piper has expounded throughout his ministry is that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” That is, God is shown to be the greatest treasure in the universe when he is the greatest treasure of his people. Thus, Piper calls for believers to pursue joy and satisfaction in God. Yet, this is not easy. We live in a sin-filled, tsunami-producing, emotionally-draining world. The fight for joy in God is just that–a fight! Piper writes this book to help believers and unbelievers see what men like Augustine, John Calvin, Jonthan Edwards, and so many others have seen. Namely, the glory of God. However, it is not just a fight to see. It is a fight to see and then savor what is seen. We see God and then we savor him as our “sovereign joy” (Ps. 43:4). Oh, that we would fight to see God and be satisfied in all that he is for us through Christ.

Second, this book is a practical book. I don’t mean to say it isn’t loaded with theology. It is. The chapter on using the world to fight for joy in God was particularly hard to follow. Not because Piper isn’t a good writer, but because Piper is such a deep thinker. Yet, in the midst of the profound theological and exegetical insight, there is a ton of wisdom. Piper unpacks how to use the Bible, prayer, etc., in our fight for joy in God. If you read the book, your mind will be challenged. Don’t doubt that! But, you will also find that Piper delivers a manual to guide us in the fight. He takes deep truths and helps you put them into practice.

Third, this book is loaded with insights from saints of yesterday. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, C.S. Lewis, and others are all quoted. One of the benefits of quoting so regularly from church history is to help readers see that these ideas are not novel. The thoughts of Piper are found in the Bible and he is not the first to see these things. Another benefit of all these quotes is that it compiles in one work some of the most profound insights from men of other generations that are relevant to the subject Piper has undertaken. Furthermore, for those who like quotes, this book would be a fun volume to skim from time to time just to hear from men like Spurgeon, Lewis, and others. That, in itself, is a bit of fun.

The book closes with “When the Darkness Does Not Lift.” This chapter has been turned into a stand alone book and is available for purchase. This is a helpful part of the book that is directed towards those who are going through extended seasons of darkness. They have fought and fought and still the fog remains. Piper wants to “give some guidance and hope to those for whom joy seems to stay out of reach” (Piper, 209). If you are one who reads about being joyful in Jesus and find it almost impossible to “rejoice in the Lord,” I suggest picking this book up and reading the last chapter first. Piper is a good guide and faithful friend amidst the fight to see the light of joy in the midst of darkness.

Desiring God may be the most popular work that Piper has produced. When I Don’t Desire God is a book that compliments the truths that Piper has expounded in that first work. I commend the book to you and believe that it would make a fantastic Christmas present. Take up, and read.


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