When I Don't Desire God





Confession: I have never read John Piper's Desiring God. I know, some of Reformed/Redeemer friends will be shocked. I actually picked it up once and didn't make it through the first chapter. I consider myself an avid reader, but Piper challenged me in ways my heart wasn't ready to accept. But I've heard the main statement countless times: God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.

But what if we just aren't satisfied?

This week, after more than two months of reading, I finished When I Don't Desire God: The Fight for Joy - Piper's follow-up, as it were, to Desiring God. Piper's aim is to answer those who say, Great, I'm supposed to desire God. But what if I just don't? How do I change my desires?

I bought it several years ago, while we were still living in America, when I went through a time of spiritual darkness - and didn't read it. During our home leave last year, I threw it in a suitcase, determined to get through it. And this spring, when I struggled with issues like identity, it helped me work through what it meant to want a relationship with God, to find my joy in him, and how to see God.

"I have the profound sense that many people who complain of not being able to rejoice in God treat the knowledge of God as something that ought to be easy to get." 
(p. 126)

For me, Piper is a challenging author to read, and I like that. I've read so many Christian books with shallow message (Just trust God! He's crazy about you! God loves you, so you should too!) - truth, but very superficial. It doesn't challenge my heart or my mind. It's not the kind of writing that you underline three times, read twice, then copy in your journal just to wrap your mind around one sentence. I know that spiritual knowledge is given by God. But that doesn't mean it's easy to receive. God is far more deep and complex than anything else in life; should I expect understanding about Him and His ways to come easy?

Isn't it horrifying that I cannot be delighted in God naturally? My own sinful nature clouds my eyes, and I can no longer see how glorious, beautiful, and perfect He is. I mourn over my inability to love God as I should, but the gospel brings me comfort - God both forgives my sinfulness and gives me a new heart that does desire him. So our desire to love God comes from Him, not from our own will or choice. It is a gift.

"Fight for joy, not by doing things that establish your identity with God, 
but by becoming what your identity already is with God in Christ. 
Become what you are."
(p. 85)

I think a way to summarize the book is, if you focus on joy, you will never find it. But if you focus on the Savior and truly see Him, joy will be born.

Note: The Desiring God website provides a free pdf copy of When I Don't Desire God on their website. Check it out!
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p.s. Readers, any book suggestions now that I've finished that one?