Gives and Takes

Gives and Takes
By Steve Smith

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Do you recognize those words? Have you pondered their magnitude in the circumstances of your life? Over the past few weeks I have not been able to get them out of my mind. They are the words of Job in the first chapter of his book after all his possessions are wiped out and his 10 children are killed.

Half of that statement by Job sure is a lot easier to say than the other, or at least it is for me. Receiving what the Lord gives is easy to bless his name for. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” All of our possessions and the people in our lives are gifts.

The other half of this statement is honestly not so easy for me. Can I bless the name of the Lord when he takes something or someone away? Of course the only way that this is possible is to first believe that everything belongs to God in the first place and is his to do with what he pleases. So does that make it easy? I don’t think so do you? 

Here is a picture of our son Nicholas who was taken suddenly from us on November 28, 2017 at the age of 28. And here is a picture of our new grandson Lane Nicholas Smith given to our son Jeremy and his wife Alyssa on December 12, 2018.

I do believe God created everything in the beginning and that every life is created by him still and is his to do with as he pleases. Therefore, the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Being honest, it is much easier to bless the name of the Lord surrounding the giving of Lane than it is the taking of Nicholas. 

Surely, I am not alone in this sentiment? Actually I know I am not. Pastor Matt Schuler could post a picture of his Father who passed away less than 2 years ago suddenly, and a picture of his son born less than 2 weeks ago and say with me the gives are much easier then the takes when it comes to blessing the name of the Lord.

I met a young lady not long ago who at the age of 24 has had 3 children pass away, and the one child she has is dealing with severe heart issues. She also would agree the gives are easier than the takes.

The gives and takes of life are not just true in terms of human life either, it comes in all shapes and forms of work, health, relationships, finances and other life challenges. There are gives and takes in every aspect of life. If we are all honest, I think we would agree that the gives are easier than the takes.

So what was the key for Job? He despaired, lamented, complained and questioned God. He didn’t do everything perfect. What is the key for us?  We despair, lament, complain and question God. We don’t do everything perfectly either. What can give us the power and strength to bless the name of the Lord even when things are taken? In a word, hope. But not just any hope, resurrection hope.  Look what Job writes in chapter 19, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”

Job is looking ahead to Jesus who gave his life on the Cross as his redeemer and rose from the dead for his eternal hope to be with him forever. Jesus gives his life to take away our sins. This is the great give and take, it gives forgiveness and takes sins away, and it’s all God! Jesus rose from the dead to give us hope and take away the fear of death and be with him forever, and it’s all God! 

In the end, Job was given back more than he had before in earthly terms, and yet the last statement in the book of Job is “and Job died, an old man, full of days.” Whether God chooses to give and take, give and take, give and take for our whole lives, whether we die young or old, the last sentence in our “book” so to speak will be the same, insert your name “and_________died.”

Job looked ahead, we look back. Do we see now why the great give and take that Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead is the only hope in life’s gives and takes? And the only hope at the end of our lives as well? God shapes us in faith through what he gives and what he takes.

What are your life’s gives and takes? Are you viewing them through the lens of hope God gives? May he enable us to more and more bless the name of the Lord both in the gives and the takes of this life.

BlogMatthew Schuler