When the Darkness Will Not Lift

We may all feel down from time to time, but for some of us we may experience a season of despair or darkness that just doesn't seem to lift.  Knowing this to be true in my life, even if for a brief time, this e-book by John Piper is certainly an important one for women.

After hearing about this downloadable book, I purchased it for a few bucks and read it quickly.  If you are looking for a concise read (89 iPhone pages) on this important topic for yourself or for loved ones, this is it.

Piper addresses reasons, in a straight-forward manner, for dark times in our Christian lives. Through solid examples for dealing with depression, you finish the book equipped to persevere in seeking joy through Christ.

For those who have friends or family struggling with ongoing despair, the final chapter is especially helpful and encouraging.  Not everyone sees an end to their despair here on earth.  Piper shares the account of John Newton's care for a poet in his flock, William Cowper, who struggled with suicidal thoughts almost all of his life.  While Cowper was never relieved of his despair, he was deeply comforted by the love that Newton gave him for many many years.  This was a challenge to me as I minister to women in need.  It is written of Newton:  "He did not despair of the despairing."

Borrowing (and tweaking) a title from another Piper book, if you have experienced depression yourself, this book encourages you to "Not Waste Your Depression".  Through Biblical truths, practical applications, and inspiring historical accounts, may you be inspired to "soak [a depressed friend] in the benevolence, mercy, goodness, and sympathy, and the sufficiency of the atonement, and the fullness and completeness of Christ's justification."  Even if you have not personally been in the midst of despair, the words in this little book urge us all to stand beside a melancholy saint and help her fight for joy.

On the final page, Piper says this:

A poem by George Herbert wonderfully sums up this chapter and this book. It’s called “Bittersweet.” I hope you will read it twice, once to get the flow, and once aloud (as poetry is meant to be read) for the beauty and the meaning. Please don’t stumble over the old-fashioned spelling. Herbert would be very happy if you were encouraged in your fight for joy.

Ah my deare angrie Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.

Or as the apostle Paul put it for all the saints who fight for joy in this fallen world of pain and suffering, we live and minister “as sorrowful, yet always have rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Press on in the fight, my friends.  

Love, Wendy