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Monday, April 17, 2017

When I Don't Desire God

I Don't Desire God

This year, I have tried to constantly challenge myself with the question: "Is God really my all in all?" I often find myself asking this question in the midst of crushing emotions arising from moments of unreconciled hurt, painful memories and a glaring realization of my own depravity in my struggle with sin. In some or all of these moments, I reluctantly agree with the spirit of truth that I have somehow made a god out of my emotional attachments. Idolatry is often associated with possessions but I found that to be far from the truth as I am introduced to my 2-D idols.

After a series of "burn-outs" resulting from the F grade obtained from attempting to genuinely answer the question: "Do you love your God with all of your heart, soul and mind?", I picked up a short book by John Piper: "When I don't desire God: How to Fight for Joy" Although I have been able to to admit that I do not delight in God as I should but when I saw the book's title, I couldn't help but wonder:
"Why do we have to fight for joy?"
Fight or Gift 

Isn't this a gift that comes with salvation?". So far, Piper has done nothing but help me debunk this question, which I am sure many other believers have, by pointing me to the depths of God's word on this issue. First of, I'd like to give a short and concise answer to the question: Joy in God is both a gift and something to fight for, albeit a good fight. I'll give a short summary of what I've learned so far and leave a link to a free copy of the book if you'd like to learn more.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."- Philippians 2:12-13
"First, we embrace the truth that not only our joy in God, but also the fight for joy itself is a gift of God. In other words, God works in us to enable us to fight. Embracing this truth prevents us from thinking that the joy we fight for is ultimately our achievement. Joy remains a gift and continues to be spontaneous, even though we ourselves are engaged in its cause."- Excerpt from the book

This truth, for me, is both a relief and a challenge. A relief to know that it is God himself, in his great mercies, that enables me to delight in Him. In Ephesians, Paul prays for the eyes of their heart to be opened to the hope to which they have been called, this implies that for us to be able to delight in God, we must first receive the gift of spiritual sight. A challenge because there is still need for a fight.

The Good Fight
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."- 1 Timothy 6:12
  1. First, it is a good fight because the enemy of our joy is evil. The enemy is unbelief, and the satanic forces behind it, and the sins that come from it. When you set yourself to combat the forces that try to make you delight in yourself or your accomplishments or your possessions more than in God, you oppose a very evil enemy.
  2. Second, it is a good fight because we are not left to our own strength in the fight. If we were, as Martin Luther says, “Our striving would be losing.” In other words, when a child of God fights for joy in God, God himself is the one behind that struggle, giving the will and the power to defeat the enemy of joy (Phil. 2:12-13). We are not left to ourselves to sustain the joy of faith. God fights for us and in us.
  3. Third, it is a good fight because it is not a struggle to carry a burden, but a struggle to let a burden be carried for us. The life of joy in God is not a burdened life. It is an unburdened life. The fight for joy is the struggle to trust God with the burdens of life. It’s a fight for freedom from worry. It’s a fight for hope and peace and joy, which are all threatened by unbelief and doubt about God’s promises. And since freedom and hope and peace and joy are good, the fight to preserve them is a good fight. (Excerpt from the book in italics)
I read this and the Holy Spirit filled me up with encouragement and strength to carry on. When Paul says our battle isn't against flesh and blood, I am daily faced with realities that cause me to believe that without a shadow of doubt. This post is to encourage you, if you are at any point experiencing a spiritual drought or don't even realize the need to delight in God. My prayer is that we will all see the need to delight in God above all else and put on the full amour of God that we may stand against the schemes of the devil. 
I'll come back to share some practical steps I have been taking to fight for joy and delight in God on a day to day basis.

"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose . . . ! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though notin the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . . . O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation."- St. Augustine

Link to the book is HERE 

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