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When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy
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When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  52 reviews
“It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.” -John Piper

Even the most faithful, focused Christians can encounter periods of depression and spiritual darkness when joy seems to stay just out of reach. It can happen because of sin, satanic assault, distressing circumstances, or here
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Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Published (first published December 14th 2006)
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Krista
Agree with the other reviews- loved a LOT of this book and was introduced to other authors and writings on the topic- for which I am very grateful. I found a lot of encouragement in this little book.

My only point of disagreement is with some of his statements on the Duty of Joy. Telling a despairing person to repent and confess their lack of joy, when they would give almost anything to feel joy is the 100% opposite of helpful. I dearly hope this is not biblical though I will take some time to me
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Patricia
Introduction to a Biblical view of depression in the life of a Christian. Instead of telling the suffering to "stop it!" this book briefly explores possible reasons for depression, and ends with a chapter on encouraging and loving those who are suffering, giving the example of John Newton and William Cowper: It is a great tribute to him that he did not aban­don his friendship with Cowper, though this would, no doubt, have been emotionally easy to do. Instead, there was an earnest exchange of let ...more
Joel Arnold
This book (79 pages) is short and light enough to read in one sitting when you have a little spare time. You'll probably be done with it in the time it takes to watch a movie (and be much better off). Piper provides excellent biblical counsel for people who struggle with depression, doubts, or excessive introversion. Along the way, he provides reorienting thoughts for any believer and direction for counseling others through depression. Whether you have struggled with depression in the past, face ...more
Lisa
I like that he admits that not all depression is a spiritual problem. Some is physical and requires medication, however that is not where we should immediately turn. I'm glad the book mentioned degrees of faith. Sometimes our faith gets so small that we don't feel saved. I struggled with that for years. I have learned that it is not our faith that saves us; it is the object of our faith. If we depended on having enough faith to feel saved it would be salvation based on works. I like how he remin ...more
Jkanz
It has always seemed to me that John Piper, in many regards, understands depression or melancholy better than many pastors do. Perhaps it is because he has admitted his own tendencies to struggle through some dark nights. When the Darkness Will Not Lift (2006), a short, 79-page book that was originally appended to another book When I don't Desire God was a treatment he gave to the issue of melancholy.

In classic style, Piper harkens back to those who have gone before him, particularly the Puritan
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Jeff Short
Christians pursue joy in God and find delight and pleasure at His right hand. Sometimes we are miserable. There are different reasons for that. There are things we can do about it and things we cannot do. Some are more prone or experience it more than others. There are no easy answers.

I think John Piper feels the weight of all those things in authoring this book. He sorts some of the complexity and gives practical help. He doesn't pretend to offer a panacean. He helpfully points out that when da
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Elena
Great little book. Take the time to really let the sentences soak in. Felt it was helpful to those who may experience mild to moderate to depression and those who seek to understand and help others they know who may experience it.
Wendy
I suffer with minor depression occasionally, and had a year-long bout of moderate depression in my past... I can't say that I found this book terribly helpful or encouraging, it was just ok.
Tatuu
Read in 2009. Definitely calls for a re-read!
Laurie
Only intelligent repentance, living faith, and tangible obedience turn the world upside down.

the relationship between the soul and the brain is beyond human comprehension and should be handled with the greatest care and with profound attention to the moral and spiritual realities of human personhood that may exert as much influence on the brain as vice versa.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” One of the reasons God loved David so much was that he cried so much
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Liz Kahle
John Piper made it clear that this short read was originally intended to be the final chapter in his book "When I Don't Desire God." I am grateful for the size of this book as those who are experiencing "the dark night of the soul", depression, a life overwhelmed, etc. might not have the energy and mental acumen to fully engage in tough but biblically-insightful teachings. I have experienced dark days myself and greatly appreciate the reminder to turn to Jesus as the source of hope and joy. I al ...more
Teri-k
Very good book for Christian who suffers from depression. Not condescending or full of platitudes. I wish it were longer and deeper, though. I could have read so much more!

Piper says that "seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life." Wow. I can't say that I've ever heard that in a sermon in any church I've been in. And I've been in a lot of different ones in a lot of different denominations. He also says that it is possible for your mustard seed sized faith to grow so small you can't s
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Jennifer Zartman
I hold John Piper in high regard, and have gained blessings from some of his other books, but this one is so short that it lacks any depth. It boasts 79 pages only because it uses a fairly large font and double spacing throughout the book. He gives reasonable suggestions of ways to approach depression and dig out of it but offers us little else.
Suz
Nice, short and encouraging. At times it can be a bit dry and theological, however. Not always the best read when you just are sad and want to feel better, but give some very good insights on when Christians have depression and what we can do about it.
Ed
A fascinating little book, and I agree with the remedy he gives for people who are distressed. We need to get our eyes off ourselves and onto others. Taking an interest in others, Christians and the unsaved will bring joy to a depressed heart. We were born in sin, so it is natural to be self-centered. When we get saved, God wants us to think of others and to take an interest in others. This is the way that we can defeat depression. Believe me, there are many other self-centered people that need ...more
Matt
A short and limited book, but pastoral and practical. Some of Piper's suggestions seem helpful, others somewhat less so, but overall, a worthwhile read for someone struggling with, or for those who know someone struggling with, depression.
Nicole
This short book was better than I expected. I recommend it for the follower of Christ who is experiencing the darkness or who has a loved one who is.
The shortness makes it digestible and not overwhelming.
Caleb
Found it to be a great help. Though not an exhaustive help for every facet of spiritual darkness, discouragement, hopelessness, etc. I felt that for the size of the book it offers solid advice and encouragement to those who fall under any of the above categories. Especially beneficial to read was when he addresses when Christians do not believe they are Children of God, "Have I lost my salvation?" Quotes mine. The counsel he gives is what we can say to those who are struggling but can just as ea ...more
Caroline Williams
"It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him." Piper. I like this...
Erik&Melissa Salyer
Great little book! If you're Looking for a larger one probably should read "When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight For Joy" by Piper for a more detailed study.
Lisa
Great short read and reminder on why we should have joy. Lots of resources for further study into this topic.
Anna
This small book consistently reminds the reader that sanctification is a process, but your justification has been declared and is secure. This is a good truth to remember.
The reason I only gave this book three starts is because it does not talk much about "what to do while we wait for God - and joy." I am not currently in a dark spot, but have a friend that is. I like to pre-read books before recommending them and I don't think I will send this book to him at this time. Instead, a list of promi
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Emmeline Sferle
Speaks tot the deepest part of darkness within a Christians life..
Brenda
This little book provides good reassurance to Christians experiencing any level of depression or a "dark night of the soul." It's very short - the notes indicate that it's more like an expanded chapter of Piper's book When I Don't Desire God. He takes a very compassionate tone, while also pointing out some of the uglier root causes of spiritual struggle. Most importantly, he repeatedly states that depression or spiritual struggle is not an indication of unbelief. That can't be said enough in our ...more
Mark A Powell
Depression and despair are seldom spoken of (or admitted to) in Christian circles, yet they are part of the human condition, and times of darkness will enter nearly every life. In the pastoral style he has become so connected with, Piper delves into an honest discussion of these dark times and offers genuine, Scriptural help for those who are in the midst of night. His approach and his instruction are both equally helpful and much needed.
KC McCauley
Simply put, this book helps us find joy in God even in the midst of darkness. Piper does not belittle depression, as he gives several examples of historic saints that have gone through seasons of depression. This book will be a great help in counseling others.

I was talking with a high school student one day who was very depressed. Immediately, my mind brought this book to my attention and I decided to read it. It is good, and short!
Brian Morrissey
Fantastic book that I would recommend to anyone who is struggling in life. Many different factors can contribute to our feeling that God no longer cares about us, but that simply isn't true. John Piper has a real ability to cut through the noise that clutters our thoughts and break things down in a clear and concise manner. I was able to shotgun read this book in about an hour due to the fact that it's only 79 pages long.
April
Pastor Piper is a man of such simple, rich truths. This book didn't blow me away, but it provided me with a day's worth of hope for a currently joyless life. I'll probably re-read this work more than once; it's very short.

The footnotes are very handy if you're looking for other materials to help you through the darkness.
Zack Giljum
When the Darkness Will Not Lift is a book that helps the reader diagnose their problem, and understand the solution to it. Piper makes certain to follow up every claim and suggestion with Biblical references (in-context) which discretely reveals to the reader the location of the solution: Scripture.
Josh Simons
I've struggled with despair for many years. Not that Piper's book is a cure-all, but I find in it much encouragement as he stands beside me in my melancholy. I'm grateful for Piper's pointing us to the joy that is in Christ and the hope that is in Him, even when that is so small as not to be seen.
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  • Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
  • Discipline: The Glad Surrender
  • Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus
  • The Practice of Godliness
  • Treasuring God in Our Traditions
  • Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God
  • Recapture the Wonder
  • Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World
  • Seeing With New Eyes, Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture (Resources for Changing Lives)
  • Idols of the Heart, Learning to Long for God Alone
  • When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Resources for Changing Lives)
  • The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction
  • The Mortification of Sin
  • The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus
  • When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage
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John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethe
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More about John Piper...
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist Don't Waste Your Life The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God The Passion of Jesus Christ Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions

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“Do not say, 'But it is hypocritical to thank God with my tongue when I don't feel thankful in my heart.' There is such a thing as hypocritical thanksgiving. Its aim is to conceal ingratitude and get the praise of men. That is not your aim. Your aim in loosing your tongue with words of gratitude is that God would be merciful and fill your words with the emotion of true gratitude. You are not seeking the praise of men; you are seeing the mercy of God. You are not hiding the hardness of ingratitude, but hoping for the in-breaking of the Spirit.

Thanksgiving with the Mouth Stirs Up Thankfulness in the Heart

Moreover, we should probably ask the despairing saint, 'Do you know your heart so well that you are sure the words of thanks have no trace of gratitude in them?' I, for one, distrust my own assessment of my motives. I doubt that I know my good ones well enough to see all the traces of contamination. And I doubt that I know my bad ones well enough to see the traces of grace. Therefore, it is not folly for a Christian to assume that there is a residue of gratitude in his heart when he speaks and sings of God's goodness even though he feels little or nothing. To this should be added that experience shows that doing the right thing, in the way I have described, is often the way toward being in the right frame. Hence Baxter gives this wise counsel to the oppressed Christian:

'Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can. You have not the power of your comforts; but have you no power of your tongues? Say not that you are unfit for thanks and praises unless you have a praising heart and were the children of God; for every man, good and bad, is bound to praise God, and to be thankful for all that he hath received, and to do it as well as he can, rather than leave it undone.... Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.”
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“...we should all fortify ourselves against the dark hours of depression by cultivating a deep distrust of the certainties of despair. Despair is relentless in the certainties of its pessimism. But we have seen again and again, from our own experience and others', that absolute statements of hopelessness that we make in the dark are notoriously unreliable. Our dark certainties are not sureties.” 7 likes
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