Thursday, January 11, 2007

At the Diner

This morning over breakfast at the diner, I read John Piper's new little book called When the Darkness Will Not Lift. It is an outgrowth of When I Don't Desire God (a book which I have not read). This a short book (79 easy reading pages) but well worth the time, both for the sake of self, and the sake of helping others through times of darkness. If you have never experienced a time of spiritual darkness, you probably aren't alive, either spiritually or physically. Whether you are experiencing darkness now or not, this book will prove helpful, as an encouragement if nothing else.

One thing of note refreshed me again this morning. In Psalm 40:1, David says, "I waited patiently for the Lord." We often read of waiting on God, and talk about patience. But too many times, in spiritual darkness (or in self-absorbed pity parties) we want God to act now. God sometimes wants us to wait patiently. Piper reminds us of the life of William Cowper, whose darkness apparently never lifted, even with the friendship and biblical encouragement of John Bunyan.

In a "gotta have it now" society, patient waiting on God's timing is necessary. We must not short circuit the process of God's work in our lives by finding easy outs for times of darkness.

On to the less important, while I was there, I overheard complaints about Bush sending more troops to Iraq. (It is a notably Democratic breakfast crowd). My mind goes back to the people who complained for four years that we didn't have enough "boots on the ground." Now those same people are complaining that we are sending more.

Well, here's my advice: "Make up your mind already."

What this seems to indicate is that some people will play politics with war. Whether or not we should have gone into Iraq is moot at this point. We are there. Whether or not we should have done it differently is water under the bridge. That ship has already sailed. That bus has left the station. Now, we must win. Sending more troops may help. It may not. But the void of other ideas (short of "let's get out") is huge.

They say that sixty-something percent are dissatisfied with the war. My question is, What do the other thirty-something percent think? That's it's great? I think it is going horribly, and has been for a very long time. The solution is a whole different matter.

Pulling out is not an option, it seems to me. We have to finish the job to give the Iraqi's a reasonable chance at success. Yes, we may have to babysit an infant democracy for a while. But the long term benefits have the potential to be great. Politicians say we need to give our soldiers everything they need for success. Well, how about some help? Will it work? Who knows ... But it seems better than the alternative, at least in the short-term.

The final chapter on Bush's presidency will not be written for twenty or more years, when we see what happens in Iraq. But he decided to stake his presidency on the Iraq war, and as one political commentator said last night, "Tonight, he went double or nothing."

One guy in the diner commented this morning that three thousand American soldiers died for nothing.

How is freedom from a brutal dictator nothing? How is the chance to start a democracy nothing? How is the opportunity to have legitimate elections nothing? How is bringing justice to a man who killed hundreds of thousands nothing?

While every life is precious, freedom is not free. Let's not spit on the graves of soldiers by saying they died for nothing. Life is precious, even if it is Iraqi life half way around the world.

Maybe we should not have been there. But what we did was certainly not "nothing."

I am also reminded that our hope is not in the world. More soldiers in Iraq will not solve the problems of the human heart. It reminds me to proclaim more faithfully and with greater passion the freedom that is in Christ alone.

We as Christians find it easy to discuss politics (which do not matter) but hard to discuss Jesus (who does matter). Does anyone else wonder about the incongruity of that?

Piper reminds us:

Christ is the most glorious person in the world. His salvation is infinitely valuable. Everyone in the world needs it. Horrific consequences await those who do not believe on Jesus. By grace alone we have seen him, believed on him, and now love him. Therefore, not to speak of Christ to unbelievers, and not to care about our city or the unreached peoples of the world is so contradictory to Christ’s worth, people’s plight, and our joy that it sends the quiet message to our souls day after day: This Savior and this salvation do not mean to you what you say they do. To maintain great joy in Christ in the face of that persistent message is impossible (When Darkness Will Not Lift, p.. 65).


Joel Tetreau said...


Great post all the way around. Thanks for sharing what you enjoyed about Piper's book. I just had a discussion with a believer who had to make it back home to make sure he didn't miss the President's speech, but this same believer may or may not be to church on Sunday. I know that's not the same as sharing Christ....but it does demonstrate the inconsistency that you speak to.



Michelle said...

Excellent post. This reminds me of part of a message I heard this week by Dr Bob Jones, III---the most important thing is that people everywhere are dying and going to hell.

Anonymous said...


I like your idea of reading in the diner.

I have had thoughts of doing the same at our local donut shop.(Haven't yet, though).

I'm curious: do you ever engage the diner pundits in conversation, or is mainly a listening exercise?

Blessings to you,


Larry said...

Sometimes I talk to them. I know most of them and we have talked before. It depends on the day and who is in there. I have been going for probably three or four years now, so I know just about all the 8:00 crowd. My main point is to read and study and be a face in the community.

Derek Makri said...

Totally agree on your views on the war. The bottom line is that we are there and that we have to win. Why is it that the terrorists know how high the stakes are and are willing to do whatever to push us out, but the liberals do not see it? I think most liberals would say yes if asked whether or not they want to win this war. Then they need to be asked how the intend on doing so without simple force.