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

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  821 Ratings  ·  72 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
Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Published (first published December 14th 2006)
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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
Rick Davis
I generally love John Piper, and this book did have some good stuff in it. The first and last chapter are good. However, I don't think there is any way I would ever recommend this book to someone suffering from depression. I know that it's not Piper's intention, and a non-depressed person reading it would probably understand where he's coming from just fine, but the way he approaches the subject leads me to believe that a depressed person reading this book would feel condemned and beaten down. N ...more
Jun 15, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 lett ...more
Joel Arnold
Jun 05, 2012 Joel Arnold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 09, 2014 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 11, 2015 Valérie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I agree that missed more pages, the author makes it clear that this was the final chapter of another book (By which I will run to the library), but the 79 pages, well written in a biblical way, reminded me that I fix my gaze at all times: Christ, his atoning death on the cross and his resurrection. While most of the time experiment despair, the Lord promises to care for their children, what good shepherd feeds his flock. I liked the fact to make it clear that depression is not just a spiri ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Jkanz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Apr 11, 2015 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brief and excellent book geared towards helping Christians suffering from long term depression.
Here John Piper is gracious throughout and direct as well. I highly recommend it to anyone going through depression or to anyone with a friend going through it and wondering how to help them.
Sharing this book with them would be a very good idea. The eBook version is freely downloadable from ""
Dec 20, 2015 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
escueto, puntual y muy edificante.
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
J.M. Robinson
Jan 26, 2015 J.M. Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It is one that I will keep on my book shelf for dark times. Piper gives a great list of authors who have written on the topic of depression. Many will benefit from this list.

I thought Piper gave some good things that one can do while waiting for God and joy. Many did not like that he said that those who cannot find joy in duty "probably" need to repent. I think it should be noted that he qualified his statement, and many times in my own cases of dealing with this malady, th
A short primer on dealing with depression as a Christian. There is nothing revolutionary here but at just under 80 pages, it is worth the read. One idea that has stuck with me is the need to fortify ourselves against depression when we are doing well: “while we have the light, let us cultivate distrust of the certainties of despair”. When one is stuck in the depths of despair, it is almost impossible to convince yourself that what you are feeling is not real. So, when things are good, we need to ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Elena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
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.
Kristin Moye
Dec 31, 2014 Kristin Moye rated it did not like it
Soooo Disappointed!!!!!!!!!

This book just did not really come across as what I thought it would be. Honestly I feel I washed the ten bucks I spent for this.
The first chapter was pretty good....that can not be said of the remainder of this book. Honestly I could not even find out in myself to finish the lady two chapters of this book... and I doubt I ever will.
It read like a pamphlet.. and for it to cost almost as much as the hard copy the kindle version sucked big time.
Lastly this would be mor
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.
Megan Triplett
Jun 06, 2016 Megan Triplett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who periodically battles feelings of melancholy and despair, I found this short book extremely helpful, practical and encouraging!
Depression is something that a Christian can also experience. It may be because of an unconfessed sin, a heavy burden or guilt inside. There's an absence of joy and a presence of darkness. A depressed Christian is someone who's also lost and waiting to be found.

In this book, Piper discussed the truth about spiritual darkness. Even the most focused Christian can have this phase in his life. No one is exempted. Piper also discussed the need for physical and spiritual medication. If the depression
May 30, 2013 Tatuu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read in 2009. Definitely calls for a re-read!
Ben Laur
I enjoyed this book. There are nuggets of gold in this little book that you will similarly find in anything Piper has written. Piper seems to tie most depression to a spiritual cause it its core. That is not to say that he denies the possibility of physical causes or the role of medication, but he sees the fight of faith in the good news of Jesus as the core of what it means to live with joy. If this thesis is correct, then I think Piper makes an incredible contribution to the subject.
But in my
May 25, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
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
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
May 07, 2015 Glamazini rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah no. I wanted to like this one, wanted to be encouraged and uplifted but I just couldn't get with it. First off it was suggested to me by a friend years ago when I was in a dark place. When I finally got around to checking it out of the library I was in a neutral place so I literally didn't touch it for 2 weeks. When it was due I picked it up and read it (almost) in 1 day. Super fast short read. But ... yeah ... no. My mind wandered, there were a few good take aways but nothing that made me ...more
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
J. Alfred
Jun 03, 2015 J. Alfred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will be helpful not only for those experiencing a time of depression (and who doesn't now and then) but also for those who have a loved one who habitually struggles in that way. The last chapter, on how to be a support, is full of good, bracing advice. It's got lots of hints toward further reading, some memorable stories, and is so short and direct that you can read it in a sitting.
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.
Apr 02, 2014 Suz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 24, 2014 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
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.
Oct 29, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
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.
Feb 23, 2012 Caleb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  • Treasuring God in Our Traditions
  • Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
  • Discipline: The Glad Surrender
  • The Practice of Godliness
  • Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus
  • War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles
  • Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture
  • Recapture the Wonder
  • Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone
  • Caught Off Guard: Encounters with the Unexpected God
  • When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man
  • Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World
  • Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God
  • Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose And Provision In Suffering
  • Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow
John Piper is founder and teacher of 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
More about John Piper...

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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.”
“...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.” 8 likes
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