Tag Archives: J. I. Packer

Two Conceptions of God’s Presence in Times of Affliction

A. J. I. Packer

What is the purpose of grace? Primarily, to restore our relationship with God. […] Grace is God drawing us sinners closer and closer to himself.

How does God in grace prosecute this purpose? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to him more closely. This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another: it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast. The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defense, and a sure refuge and help for the weak, is that God spends so much of his time bringing home to us that we are weak, both mentally and morally, and dare not trust ourselves to find, or to follow, the right road.

When we walk along a clear road feeling fine, and someone takes our arm to help us, as likely as not we shall impatiently shake him off; but when we are caught in rough country in the dark, with a storm getting up and our strength spent, and someone takes our arm to help us, we shall thankfully lean on him. And God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn thankfully to lean on him. Therefore he takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in himself — in the classical scriptural phrase for the secret of the godly life, to “wait on the Lord.”

from Knowing God (InterVarsity, 1993), 249-250.

B. Robert Wennberg

With the dark night of the soul the genie is no longer there to grant our every wish. God is no longer at our beck and call. By withdrawing, God communicates that he is not the servant of the person of faith, but it is the person of faith who is the servant.

from Faith at the Edge: A Book for Doubters, (Eerdmans, 2009), 65.

For two more conceptions

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J. I. Packer on knowing God

“Imagine . . . we are going to be introduced to someone whom we feel to be ‘above’ us—whether in rank, or intellectual distinction, or professional skill, or personal sanctity, or in some other respect. The more conscious we are of our own inferiority, the more we shall feel that our part is simply to attend to this person respectfully and let him take the initiative in the conversation. (Think of meeting the queen of England or the president of the United States.) We would like to know this exalted person, but we fully realize that this is a matter for him to decide, not us. If he confines himself to courteous formalities with us, we may be disappointed, but we do not feel able to complain; after all, we had no claim on his friendship. But if instead he starts at once to take us into his confidence, and tells us frankly what is in his mind on matters of common concern, and if he goes on to invite us to join him in particular undertakings he has planned, and asks us to make ourselves permanently available for this kind of collaboration whenever he needs us, then we shall feel enormously privileged, and it will make a world of difference to our general outlook. If life seemed unimportant and dreary hitherto, it will not seem so anymore now that the great man has enrolled us among his personal assistants. . . . Now this, so far as it goes, is an illustration of what it means to know God.”

J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 35-6.