God Gives and Takes Away
"The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21b)
Job was a man who had been blessed by God. He had everything a man could want – a large family, many friends, a good reputation, lots of property, animals, health, and wealth. Most importantly, Job enjoyed close fellowship with his Creator. He knew that his blessings were direct gifts from God's hand, and he was careful to give God the credit for all He had done for him.
Have you ever looked around and counted all your gifts from God? Maybe you have at Thanksgiving time, but hopefully you do it more often than just once a year! A grateful heart is usually a natural response to God's rich blessings, and we are right to thank Him. We also ought to let God's gifts teach us to trust Him as the great and good God that He is.
But what happens when God keeps back from you something that you really wanted? What if you have been praying for something important, and God seems to be saying "no"? What if God takes something away from you?
Job's blessings were all taken away from him, and there did not seem to be any good reason why. Job had not bragged about deserving his gifts or earning God's favor, but God decided to let Satan strike Job with disease and heavy losses. Job had not rebelled against God, but all his children were taken away from him. Job had not complained against God, but all his property was destroyed or stolen by robbers. Job had not failed to thank God for His gifts to him, and yet God gave Satan permission to take everything away from him – all his health, all his wealth, and most of his loved ones. Humanly speaking, it did not make sense for God to take everything back.
It is easy to trust a good and great God Who blesses us. But it can be hard to keep glorifying and praising God when He does something that hurts or surprises or confuses us. Has God ever taken something away from you or your family? A loved one? Your health? The money to go back to your Christian school?
What was Job's response when God took everything away? He said, "Blessed be the name of the LORD." God is the kind of God Who knows what He is doing, and He is still great and good. Even when we are confused and hurting after a loss, we can keep trusting in the good and great God Who always gives good and great gifts.
In the end, God provided great blessings for Job again. And He used the experience to teach Job a lesson. The lesson is that God has a right to give and to take away, and we can believe that no matter what happens, God will always be the good and great God He has always been. We can take everything that comes as from God's hand.
Here is the last verse of a hymn that a Swedish Christian lady (Caroline Sandell Berg) wrote after she saw her father drown in a tragic accident:
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne'er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Like Job, this woman saw that God had a big reason for taking her father away from her. She learned to say, "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Is God trying to teach you to trust Him as a God Who is always great and always good?
Sometimes God gives us blessings, and sometimes He takes them away; but He is always great and always good.
» Am I grateful and faithful when God gives good gifts?
» How can I still show thankfulness and trust when God takes things away?
Truth In Real Life
“Go all out for God, and God will go all out for you.”
There once was a woodpecker who flew to the top of a tall pine tree and began to peck on the bark like woodpeckers often do. A terrible storm moved in. Suddenly, a bolt of lighting struck the pine and sent the entire tree into a pile of splinters. After a moment of stunned silence, the bird said, “Well, well, well! Who would have imagined that just three pecks of my beak could have such power as that!” The bird truly believed that it was his strength – and not the lightning – that had destroyed the tree.
Jonathan Goforth heard the “woodpecker story” early in his ministry and it changed his life. He explained that, as Christians, we are like the bird and God’s power is like the lightning. We cannot take credit for God’s power any more than the bird can take credit for the lightning.
He chose as his personal motto, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6b).
Goforth was born on February 10, 1859, near Ontario, Canada. At a young age, he learned to love reading the Bible. People around him would find him memorizing verses and praying to God. Expected to help with the family farm, he worked a full-time job and attended school at the same time. At age 15, he was put in charge of all the operations of his family’s second farm. His father said simply, “Work hard. At harvest I’ll return and inspect.”
At age 18, Jonathan Goforth fell under great conviction over his sinfulness and need for a Savior. He gave his life to Jesus Christ. Shortly thereafter, he encountered a biography about the life of Hudson Taylor – a missionary to China – and determined to follow in Taylor’s footsteps.
Jesus Christ is coming back one day. Like Goforth’s father promised to return, so also Jesus Christ has promised to return. Are you working faithfully so that He will be pleased to see how you honored His wishes and carried on His work that He left you to do? Everything we do is able to get done only because of God’s strength. Are you relying on God’s power and grace to help you do what He’s given you to do?
Mark 13:33 – “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”