43 comments on “John Piper: God puts obstacles in our path to make our way more difficult

  1. Well, I’m a bit surprised to be the first comment here. I first noticed that this article is actually written by Christina Fox who is a woman and appears to be “teaching” us, which of course includes men. How is that permitted with complementarianism being so promoted by Piper? Plus she has some sort of background in counseling from a place I have never heard of. Anybody else wondering about these things? And I haven’t even touched on the content of what she wrote, which I hope to do later when I have more time–also I am a bit of a chicken too!

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  2. Well, being merely a woman, and having not read the article yet, but only the words on this tweet, I don’t agree with what Piper said. He doesn’t put obstacles in our path to make life difficult. Rather, I think that obstacles are there either by chance, or by circumstances that result from our own poor choices, and maybe sometimes by God, for the purpose of teaching us about consequences of our choices, or to teach us patience. Not as a punitive, but as a teaching tool.

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  3. I would like to see Flutterhands say that after HE gets a Big Obstacle thrown in HIS Precious Way. Something REAL serious, like Pancreatic instead of Prostate.

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  4. And Twitter is NOT the medium to propound anything more profound than “Lookit me! I made a poopie!”
    At only 140 characters, you lose a LOT in condensation.
    Especially if it’s not all txtg abbrs.

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  5. Apparently Mr. Piper’s knowledge of the Bible has slipped. hum, hum. Like he ever had any.

    “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

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  6. Ridiculous as usual. These wackos like Piper say only what serves them at the time. They convince their followers that problems and troubles are good things, so the people will make no effort to improve their situation outside the interests of their leader or group. I have know people who followed this line of thinking, and their lives continued to spiral down while they prayed and tithed-which is really the operative word here. Thanks for all you do to expose this garbage.

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  7. The article is full of unfortunate difficulties. I do not claim to be any expert at all, but just want to share my thoughts. The author has, probably unintentionally, confused or conflated these:

    Suffering for the testimony of salvation through Jesus Christ (“count it all joy…”)
    Suffering as a result of wicked rebellion against God
    Suffering the trials, hardships and sorrows of mortal, human life

    I also find the metaphor of all of these types of suffering as being a “gift” problematic, as we have the following scripture:

    James 1:17 (NKJV)
    “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

    A Christian suffering for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a specific kind of suffering. Can this be called a gift? A gift is something freely given to the recipient with nothing expected in return. But in this case suffering for the Lord is more like an opportunity, a chance to prove our loyalty, commitment and love to the Him. I suppose you could say this is a gift of opportunity.

    Suffering as a consequence of being wicked is a deserved suffering (rightful punishment), not a gift.

    Suffering hardships and sorrow are part of living in this fallen world. That kind of suffering is not a gift either. It is a result of the “groaning” and “decay” of this cursed world. Death, disease, break-downs, being subject to others’ abuse, are not part of the original good creation. Neither are minor things like someone’s rudeness to us, or our basement flooding. Trials are painful and hurt us. The Lord even commands us to pray this way:

    Luke 11:2, 4 (NKJV)
    So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

    What I sense from the article overall is a view that people, (i.e. women primarily) should just accept all forms of hardships meekly, joyfully and unquestioningly, because they are getting a “gift” from God; rather than look to Him for help in surviving ordeals, dealing with hardships wisely, discerning the right thing to do.

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  8. In the context of God “disciplining the ones he loves” there is a paradox of whether our bad choices have bad consequences by virtue of them being bad choices, or whether there is an active choice on God’s part to inflict bad consequences. There is no analysis of this “free will vs God’s will” conundrum/mystery.

    I do think God can put obstacles in our paths in the “my strength is made perfect in weakness” sense – but that doesn’t seem to be the spirit of the post, as the post seems to be focussed on us as sinners, receiving obstacles as a gift.

    Do I think God can obstruct our paths in ways that we don’t like at the time, but which in retrospect we can see were good for us? Yes. Definitely. But the problem with this post is the presumption of inherent sinfulness / waywardness on the part of the Christian. There is no consideration of how God deals with us being limited / flawed / mistaken as opposed to, outright rebellious. There is no discussion of the gentleness and patience of God.

    I have had most “painful gifts” after I actively asked God to be more active in my life – and I interpret that as meaning that he wanted my consent to dig into those awkward areas BEFORE he started doing the hard pruning. But I also saw those times as one where we were working together to tackle something thorny, not me bumping up against his resistance.

    Overall, I think the post leaves too much room for people to undergo unjust suffering and self-doubt and then interpret their experience as being about their own sinfulness. There needs to be more room for thinking about ourselves as limited and making mistakes; “blameless” and “perfect” are not the same thing.

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  9. Since I’m not a Calvinist, I would absolutely disagree.

    What kind of “obstacles”? A bad hair day? A family death? A fatal diagnosis? I’ve shared before how I’ve had my baby’s death explained this way, that it was all in His will. It just makes God out to be the source of all our problems (evil) in the world ultimately. Ugh!

    He really shouldn’t be tweeting this kind of garbage.

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  10. Tweets like this, and in other such posts such as the linked article, have led me to believe that Buddhist philosophy on the purification of the soul has infiltrated American Christianity, from Charismatics to Neo-Reformed Baptists (YRR, SBTS/SEBTS, 9Marks types).

    Where in the New Testament does it state that God makes our way more difficult? It doesn’t. Instead, the NT teaches that our way already is difficult but Christ has already won. That is why He has sent us the Holy Spirit and why He said He would not leave us as orphans and never leave nor forsake us.

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  11. What I found interesting is that the tweet doesn’t seem to say the same thing as the actual article. The tweet says that God makes our way “more difficult” while the article seems to suggest that God places obstacles in our way in order to slow us down or redirect us. Those are two totally different things. Sometimes we do need to slow down in order to evaluate if the thing we’re chasing after is what is really best for us. I honestly do believe that God has often slowed me down or redirected my path in order to lead me to the better thing.

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  12. I believe the world, the enemy, and our own poor choices give us enough opportunity for trials and problems in our lives. God’s not the source, but He does work good in spite of the trials.

    This tweet is the kind of stuff you get when you don’t take free will into account.

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  13. “Piper” and “puppets”. Those words seem to go together. His theology deems that God created puppets, designed to be manipulated. My Bible teaches that a God of love, grace and mercy created humans with intellect and intuition, etc.

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  14. This tweet is the kind of stuff you get when you don’t take free will into account.

    I don’t think Piper believes in free will – he has said that God is Sovereign and controls every molecule.

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  15. Thought 1: So, if the satan puts obstacles in our path to make our way more difficult, it is evil, but if God does so, it is grace? Piper might as well be calling God our adversary.

    Thought 2: I suggest that Piper may be transferring his perceptions and judgments of his own father on to Father God, and that he is projecting onto God how he thought fit to raise his own children.

    Thought 3: Piper seems to be playing shock jock, as though he is one to whom all attention is good and valuable attention, however attained.

    Thought 4: It is sad that this stuff has come to be viewed as profundity in much of U.S. evangelicalism.

    Thought 5: Insofar as Piper deems himself to be God’s puppet (thank you, Celeste), he likely also does not even see the need to justify his admitted propensity for peeping down at the river.

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  16. I have so many obstacles put along my path and not one of them has come from God. They have all come from men who think it is more important to uphold the reputation of the Church and their reputation then it is to do what is right and these so called ‘men of God’ are making it so difficult for me. But that is OK because God can blow away any man placed obstacle.

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  17. By God’s grace, a peanut butter, bacon and pickle burger and fries were placed in front of my hands at lunch today. It was difficult for me to resist eating all of it. Oh, my plight in life!

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  18. Julie,
    I think this is a great discussion, but there is one thing I think should be made clear. The article was not twitted directly by Piper nor was it written by him, but by a women, Christina Fox, who writes for Desiring God.
    It does not change the discussion. Knowing he also believes this. Just thought it was interesting that it was a women similar to another commit someone. And the fact that Christina does seem to be “teaching”.
    With that said I do not agree with this statement. God does not control every single thing that happens and therefore does not put obstacles in our path. I think he can use the obstacles all depending on what they are and how we respond. I believe with what ever comes our way, suffering, obstacles caused by plain old life circumstances from the choices each person makes, and daily irritations, that God provides strength, comfort, wisdom and an escape from choosing sinful responses through the Holy Spirit to learn, to persevere and not give up and grow in hope and trust. He also comes along side through others to do these things in us and through us.
    I believe in our freewill. With our freewill I’m at times confused about his sovereignty and the part he plans in my everyday circumstances. But I can’t accept that he causes a person’s death or someone’s abuse. For example my beloved friend who died in her sleep leaving 3 precious little ones, 4 month’s to 3 years. Some say God took her home and he will work it out for good. So far nothing good has come. He is good always good. Death and sin is just part of our broken world that will one day be made new and God will ultimately beings good to all who have trusted in Him. Thank you for the discussion.

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  19. At the base of this is a faulty idea- that there is such a thing as a life without suffering and conflict. There is not! Not in this world. God does not have to add suffering to anyone’s life. It’s there by virtue of the world we live in. But be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world!

    The idea that Christians should lead charmed lives is a false one. We want to be under Israel’s old testament rule ‘if you obey, I will bless you’ ‘if you disobey, I will curse you.’ Not only did this never work out well for Israel, it is not the paradigm we live under in these new testament times. We are called to live in this world as ambassadors. We partake of what this fallen world is, just as everyone else does.

    On the subject of ‘God deals with us as sons and disciplines us’… I see this scripture as saying, if you truly know God and you act in a way that you know is sinful, be sure that God loves you too much to let you persist in going the wrong way. This is different than just the hardships of life which come upon us all.

    Or maybe you know someone who has never lost any of their loved ones, never suffered from any disease, always earned plenty of money and had all the things their heart desired? I didn’t think so. (You can be sure, if you seem to know such a person, it is either an illusion or a temporary condition.)

    There is a desire to be in control of our lives when really we do not have much control over things at all. Trying to figure out “why” God has caused something to happen in our lives or what he “is trying to teach us” creates the illusion that we have some control over the situation. If we can name what is happening, then we feel more in control, but we’re just playing a mind game with ourselves. Information about these things is above and beyond our pay grade. We just need to walk in faith, knowing he loves us and will bring us safely home someday.

    Let me ask you this, does Piper’s teaching make you trust God more? or less? Does it make you want to run to the father or run away and hide from him? Does it call on you to become a masochist and enjoy being hurt and made to suffer?

    What motivates a person to teach something that will make believers distrust and run from God? That is a question I can’t answer. But I can say “no thank you” to John Piper and his dubious teachings.

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  20. Where in the New Testament does it state that God makes our way more difficult? It doesn’t. Instead, the NT teaches that our way already is difficult but Christ has already won. That is why He has sent us the Holy Spirit and why He said He would not leave us as orphans and never leave nor forsake us.

    Thank you, Burwell! I swear when I read some of Piper’s tweets, I wonder what God he is worshiping. It does not seem like the same God I read about in the Bible.

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  21. Song of Joy,

    Thanks for your comment. I agreed with much of it, but the last part left me with a question:

    What I sense from the article overall is a view that people, (i.e. women primarily) should just accept all forms of hardships meekly, joyfully and unquestioningly, because they are getting a “gift” from God; rather than look to Him for help in surviving ordeals, dealing with hardships wisely, discerning the right thing to do.

    I was wondering why you mentioned women primarily here?

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  22. In “tweetersville” I find Ken Ham for the most part rather funny, Mr Piper I have a great deal of concern for, sad thing is I think people think Piper is profound or wise. He is neither.

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  23. Wanna’ know what I think of Piper’s latest tweet on the Almighty portrayed as a mean kid with an ant farm, a magnifying glass, and bright sunshine?
    Pure unadulterated horse$hit.

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  24. Nancy2
    I whole heartedly agree. JP is an obstacle. His “ministry” over people has been destructive and God removed him from Bethlehem Baptist. What a happy day for them!! Now if we can figure out a way for his and Desiring God’s twitter accounts….

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  25. Mr Piper I have a great deal of concern for, sad thing is I think people think Piper is profound or wise. He is neither.

    “I’m not profound or wise, but I play one on Twitter.”

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  26. I like the comments abut the mean kid with an ant farm, and Piper is the obstacle, and pure horse $hite, and fired from Bethlehem Baptist Church-they cheered me up today. Piper is always so MORBID in his talks. I’d hate to have some old fart like him with his moaning style of talking !

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  27. We sang a song based on Psalm 18, way back at the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal:

    He maketh my feet like hind’s feet
    And sitteth me upon my high places
    It it God that girdeth me with strength
    and maketh my way perfect

    It is God that girdeth me with strength,
    It is God that girdeth me,
    It is God that girdeth me with strength
    and maketh my way perfect.

    So shalt my hands be lifted up
    Above all mine enemies round about me
    then will I offer
    in the sanctuary
    sacrifices of joy

    It is God that girdeth me with strength
    It is God that girdeth me
    It is God that girdeth me with strength
    and maketh my way perfect.

    I like that a whole lot better than Piper’s tweet.

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  28. The tweet does not accurately represent what was being taught within the article.

    This article is more about God’s permissive will than anything else. I don’t necessarily disagree with the specifics listed in this article. I’ve seen God use things in my life to get my attention because I had been running from Him. It ended up that my husband had to get sick and we had to lose everything for me to finally come to God. That’s not the fault of God. That was because of my own sinful nature and pride.

    This is a complex topic that has been highly debated for centuries. There are camps on both sides of the argument, so I don’t see any resolution being made here. But I also can’t ignore the way God used all the bad things that happened to me for my good and His good. But in this season I had to surrender everything to Him including my offense, anger, unforgiveness and fears. It doesn’t mean the things that happened to us were good or ordained by God, but God can redeem even the ugliest things.

    I have seen God use a sickness to bring a person down to the pit in order to save them (Job 33:15-30). Even though in our humanness we can’t understand it or may not like it, it is a biblical concept.

    Really the debate is whether God made it happen (gave a person sickness) or allowed it to happen (the sickness was coming to the person and God did not stop it). I think with our limited minds and understanding on this earth we will never know. It’s the famous argument what came first the chicken or the egg? We don’t know.

    What God chooses to divinely stop or intervene on this earth is part of His grace and will. He could have stopped that person from taking the parking spot or had another checkout open up, but He didn’t. To me, those are stupid things that I couldn’t care less about, but there really are Christians who think God doesn’t care about them when they don’t get their parking spot or have to wait in line at a store. It’s superficial to me, but it is out there and God is trying to get this person to look beyond their daily life irritation and look to Him for their joy. Being a Christian isn’t about everything going well in our lives, so we have to find God in the midst of trials, afflictions and daily irritations. Of course I don’t agree that abuse is part of that, but the article didn’t say it either.

    I know little about Piper, so these are just my thoughts based upon this article. I have found some of his articles quite helpful to me in my own journey with the Lord.

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  29. So I am in the process of doing to some training on “nouthetic” (totally bible based) biblical counseling. After, the first weekend, I made the decision to not pursue certification of any sorts through this organization. I will continue with the tracks of training to gain what I can gain … but I have leave other stuff alone. To not get into specifics it is heavy on truth and short on grace and does not represent, IMO, the complete posture of Jesus Christ toward sinners and strugglers of various kinds. Furthermore, it has overly simplified categories of the human heart and how it works. I could quote a few things from the conference but this post would get too long. It takes an element of truth and then overly expands that truth, using human reason, past the points where that truth was originally intended. Maybe if a person had a common counseling situation it may help but if there was deeper abuse and abandonment issues I would fear a misdiagnosis that too quickly/rashly moves to church discipline.

    Anyhow, Pipers Church is pretty heavy into this biblical counseling movement. I can see where truth can become “marginally” abusive in situations like this and its pretty sad to see so many reports of this across the internet.

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