I just finished reading When I don’t Desire God by John Piper.
I avoided this book for a long time because of the title. Of course I desire God! This book must be for people “in the depths of despair,” as Anne Shirley would say.
I avoided Desperate by Sally Clarkson for the same reason. Silly, but true.
When I Don’t Desire God is for everyone. It’s about fighting to see Jesus everyday. It’s about seeing the glory of Jesus Christ and his worth, even on the mundane days. And it’s about seeing the daily fight for joy as a gift.
There are 3 ideas that I spent time reflecting on while reading this book (and probably more, but these are the 3 that stand out)…
First, Piper explains the reason we need to fight for joy (chapter 3). He says, “The fight for joy is first and always a fight to see. Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel awakens joy. And joy in Christ magnifies his worth.” We need to see Christ’s glory in the gospel. “Not just the facts, but the beauty of the facts.”
That’s why this book is for everyone. As believers, this is our daily fight—to see the glory of Jesus Christ in everything.
Second, I learned some more specific ways to pray from the Psalms. Piper spends a couple of chapters on prayer. After reading Praying the Bible by Don Whitney and making it a habit to pray from the Psalms, I appreciated the detailed list of themes we can pray from the Psalms to help in the fight for joy. Pray for strategic wisdom, for a deeper sense of assured hope, for strength and endurance, and a whole list of other ideas.
Third, I learned more about how physical realities, including art and music, help us to see glimpses of God’s glory. Since I’m always interested in exploring how creative pursuits relate to the glory of God, this chapter stuck with me. He says, “art and music have the potential to awaken minds and hearts to aspects of God’s glory that were not perceived before.” Though only echoes of God’s glory, great art and music can implore us to look higher, to see the glory of God in the heavens, and to see Him.
“We should make direct use of the world to see and savor the glory of God, wherever he has displayed it. This includes the efforts of man, by his design and art, to represent something of God’s glory. Even those who do not believe in God often sense that there is more to see in what they see. Even the unbelieving artist may unwittingly assist us in seeing and savoring God in the world he has made.”
There is certainly more to learn from this book. These are just the 3 things that had the biggest impact on me at this time. Don’t let the title put you off—this is one of Piper’s most concise and practical books, written for the average Christian, and full of wisdom from a man who has spent his life fighting for joy in God. His aim is to encourage Christians that say Christ is supremely valuable to experience the unsurpassed worth of Jesus. “Christ is supremely glorious and supremely valuable. Therefore he is worth the fight.”