Worship saved John Piper’s marriage

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By Mark Ellis

John Piper (right) interviewed by C.J. Maheney
John Piper (right) interviewed by C.J. Maheney

He is one of the most influential pastors, authors, and theologians in America. Recently he shocked an interviewer by revealing that he and his wife had deep struggles in their marriage, but corporate worship played a decisive role in changing John Piper’s attitude toward his wife.

“I think I’m still married because of corporate worship,” Piper told Pastor C.J. Mahaney and an audience of pastors at the 2016 Sovereign Grace Churches Pastors Conference held in late October.

“What do you mean by that?” a stunned Mahaney asked, momentarily taken aback. Mahaney leads a Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville.

“Noel and I would have periodic, real struggles, not communicating, hurting each other with our words, feeling hopeless that we could be happy,” Piper confessed. John and his wife, Noel, have been married since 1968, have five grown children and numerous grandchildren.

Undoubtedly, many at the conference had no idea about Piper’s marital struggles.

“I would go to church under those awful conditions and I’m supposed to preach,” Piper continued.

But when God inhabits the praise of His people, hearts soften and a renewed perspective emerges.

“In those moments of singing about His greatness and His mercy — the gospel — I would generally be melted and I would feel hope,” Piper told the other pastors.

As his spirit connected vertically with God, a shift took place in his mind. What an idiot, he thought to himself, that I would make so much out of that (situation with his wife).

“That would happen repeatedly in song, in corporate worship,” he told Mahaney. As God increased, Piper was humbled and renewed hope emerged. “God struck me down with hope. With hope he struck me down.”

As he worshipped, Piper gained a more realistic picture of his own condition. You proud, arrogant, selfish jerk, he concluded about his attitudes toward Noel.

The power of the Gospel brought real change. “Then He picked me up, enabled me to preach and go home and press on.”

“We are quite happy today, by the way,” Piper said. “These are good days.”

“Corporate worship is one of the best remedies for our sin-sick souls,” Piper noted. “Without fail, trials and troubles renew every week. Big or small, they draw our gaze away from Jesus and distract us from God’s amazing mercy and grace. Instead of resting in the gospel, we frantically look elsewhere for help.”

Worship refreshed Piper’s soul. “Every Sunday morning is an opportunity for God to revive you from the week’s stupor. As you proclaim his goodness and mercy with dear brothers and sisters, God will melt your heart again.

“He will strike down your pride with the gospel, but he won’t leave you down. In his mercy, he’ll pick you up and give you strength for the week ahead.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. I am continually blessed by these reports! There’s sooo much to read everywhere, yet I’m invariably drawn to the testimonies here that, like arrows, “hit the mark”, penetrate my heart, and cause my heart to sing praise to Jesus all over again!

    What an awesome ministry!

  2. true and real worship remains one of the least understood of all Christian experiences. The incredible power of worship, the ability to change a heart, to find deeper connection with God, to know His Presence and the joy thereof, is not understood by many. Real worship, soaking worship, corporate worship with God’s anointing, changes your life. There’s nothing like it.

  3. If you are covering up child sexual abuses in your church, you can run but you cannot hide. How dare you? Please file police reports and protect the children under your care instead of your own adult relationships. You know what Jesus said about those who harm children right?

  4. John Piper tells us how the power of worship during Sunday service melts him and softens his heart. It left me wondering what would have happened if Jesus had returned during the week when he was not in a worship service or met him having a brawl with his wife. Also, he does not reveal if his wife was also impacted by that atmosphere of worship.

  5. Amen It is true God is not limited He will even do the same with “unequally yoked and “shutins if that,s your place in Gods life for you at this time! Rejoice God wants Peace and Love between His People. Dedicate your marriage to Him it is a Huge Primary Priority .

    2Co_13:11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
    Gal_5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    Eph_6:23  Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Th_5:13  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
    2Jn_1:3  Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
    Jud_1:2  Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

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