The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
This has always been a really hard verse for me. You’ve probably sung the same upbeat chorus based on this verse that I have. Singing it makes it seem so easy.
“When the dark closes in, Lord,
still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name,
Blessed by the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name.”
But actually, there’s a small pit in my stomach even now as I read this verse.
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Funny that Dan — the eternal optimist — used to quote this verse fairly often, sometimes when the losing didn’t matter so much.
But he’d also quote it in hard losses.
He quoted it one time we had five kids, we were living on one income and his company decided to reallocate a year’s worth of his sales in December. It wiped out every bit of his accrued bonus and wiping out our expectations forAnd I remember him saying this verse as we sat down with our seven kids and told them there had been a miscarriage.
But I couldn’t get on board with that verse so readily. Something in me recoiled at the thought of God taking. I didn’t doubt that it was true, but it was hard to agree with.
I think deep down I couldn’t understand how a loving God could take away.
I had no trouble agreeing with the first part of the verse. Of course God is a giving God. I had seen it so many times in my own life.
As a young highschooler, I lay in bed night after night, asking God for a boyfriend. I must have prayed it a hundred times.
And God gave. Somewhere in the long months following those prayers, I fell in love with the tall, curly-headed boy in youth group I was already great friends with. The answer to those prayers had started years before I even prayed them.
So seeing God as a good God who gives completely lined up with the way I thought God should be. One who gives.
But does a good God take away?
That sounds harsh and mean.
To have and to lose is painful.
Dan has been taken from us. But before that ever happened, Dan was first given. God is a giving God. While the pain of the taking hurts to the core, I wouldn’t trade one minute that we had with him to bypass the taking.
We would not give up the gift that was Dan to avoid the pain of losing him.
But there’s something more to that verse. One chapter later, Job adds
“Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?” (Job 2:10)
I say I believe in God. I say I trust Him and that He is my Sovereign. What kind of trust would that be if I only blessed him — if I only worshipped Him — in the good, but not in the adversity? Isn’t God entitled to both?
I can be absolutely sure that as a child of God, everything that happens to me has been allowed by God. God doesn’t cause evil but we live in a fallen world and we don’t get a pass from the effects of it.
What fair-weather worshippers we would be to only worship God in the good.
Is that even worshipping God or is it worshipping the good that He gives? I think we’ve gotten so used to the gift that we begin to expect it and desire it. We have to be so careful not to worship the gift instead of the Giver.
God is. The same hand that gives and takes loves us and takes care of us in both situations. Even on the most excruciating days, He is trustworthy.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.