Turn to God’s Word
How has this season affected you? If your heart feels cold and your days feel joy-less, there is hope for joy, even now. We can have confidence that when we see God, and see him for long enough, joy will break in. We must ask, then, as people seeking hope in a dark time, how do we see God?
In his book, When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper points us to God’s Word, observing 9 ways it produces joy by showing us God:
1️⃣ The Word of God awakens and strengthens faith
2️⃣ Through hearing the Word, God supplies the Holy Spirit
3️⃣ The Word of God creates and sustains life
4️⃣ The Word of God gives hope
5️⃣ The Word of God leads us to freedom
6️⃣ The Word of God is the key to answered prayer
7️⃣ The Word of God is the source of wisdom
8️⃣ The Word of God gives us crucial warnings
9️⃣ The Word of God enables us to defeat the devil
That list alone should cause us to praise God for his Word, close this blog post, and open our Bibles. If, however, you need one more reason to study God’s Word, consider the first half of Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Verse 3 compares the person who delights in God’s Word to a tree planted by streams of water. Reflect on that metaphor for a moment. There are two things a tree needs to survive: water and light. Light is plentiful in our world, but water can be sporadic, inconsistent, rare. However, for the tree planted by a streams of water, this isn’t true. Life flows continually from its roots to the tips of its topmost leaves.
Such are the women and men who delight in God’s Word. It is God’s means of delivering life to you and to me day after day.
By his Word, God forms our lives, so that in season we bear fruit and our leaves do not wither. If you find yourself tired, or your study of God’s Word unfruitful, there is hope in those metaphors for you. While life continually flows through God’s Word, fruit only comes in its season. The tree doesn’t give up on water because it wants to bear fruit in the Spring rather than the Fall. It continues to drink in the water, and as it drinks over weeks and months, in time, fruit comes. The tree planted by streams of water is not guaranteed a life without harsh conditions, but through the drying winds that sweep over it and the relentless beating of the sun’s rays, its leaves do not wither.
The Word of God does not guarantee joy will always be simple and present, but a life submitted to God’s Word by the power of God’s Spirit, will in time bring faith, hope, love and joy. So, in this season of all seasons, lean in and study God’s Word. Seek life where we’re told we’ll find it.
If you aren’t sure how to study God’s Word, let me give you some practical advice:
Psalm 1 describes the person delighting in the law as meditating on it day and night. Don’t give up! Don’t just read it and forget it! Grab onto something you can meditate on throughout the day.
Submit your life to God’s Word
Psalm 1 contrasts the person delighting in God’s Word to the person doing unrighteous acts. God’s Word isn’t an incantation that magically improves your life. It shows you the way to go, and God’s Spirit empowers you to go there.
Listen to the Spirit and Pray
meditating on God’s Word may sound like a complex, spiritually elite activity, but it isn’t. God’s Spirit is living and active in every believer, reminding us of truth and glorifying Christ. When you read God’s Word, pray for God’s Spirit to guide you into truth and right action.
Read for Relationship, not just Knowledge
God’s Word is his means of communicating with people. He made us for relationship with him. As you read, ask yourself what the text reveals about God, how he relates to people, and how he relates to you through grace and truth in Christ.
Turn to God’s Word in this season, and hold fast to God until he bears the fruit of joy in your life in his perfect timing.
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, (Wheaton, IL; Crossway, 2004), 97–111.
Written by: Dave Carlson, Dearborn Campus Pastor