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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Why Bless God, if He Takes Things Away?

Job by Gustav Dore in the public domain

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord

Even though Job was the most righteous man on the earth, God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s donkeys, sheep, camels, and children (Job 1:8,13-19).

In response, Job tore his robe and shaved his head in an outpouring of grief.  Then — he fell to the ground and worshiped —

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)

Even though Satan had a hand in these trials, Job understood that it was ultimately God who had taken his donkeys, sheep, camels, and children.

And Job blessed God’s name.

But why?  It’s easy to bless God when he gives.  But why bless God when he takes away?

Facing This Question

Recently I faced this question, because on New Year’s Day I had a small stroke.

I got up from the couch, felt unusually lightheaded and dizzy, and noticed that I had lost some of my peripheral vision.

I walked around a bit to see if the symptoms went away.  But when they did not, I knew there was a problem.  So my wife drove me to the emergency room.

When I arrived, it was clear that I had experienced a small stroke which affected the upper left-hand side of my peripheral vision.

They kept me for 48 hours to make sure I was stable.  They ran lots of tests to find what caused the stroke.  But my cholesterol, blood pressure, and everything else was fine, and they could find no explanation.

They did prescribe two medications which they hope will keep this from recurring.  But since there was nothing more they could do, and I was stable, they released me to come home.

Big for Me

Now that I’m home, I am discovering what it means to lose some peripheral vision — and I’m grieving this loss.

Many of you have suffered much greater losses.  But this is a big loss for me.

I believe God can heal me, and am praying for that.  I’m told that over time I will adjust.

But for now, I’m feeling the loss.  I’m thankful that I can think, speak, and walk.  But I’m seeing how important peripheral vision is, and how it’s now a little harder to read, write, and do everyday tasks.

So yesterday morning, as I was out walking and praying, I was sorrowing over this loss.

And God met me in the story of Job.  My loss is tiny compared to his.  But still, like Job, God has taken something from me.

Yes, there’s a medical explanation.  And maybe, like with Job, Satan had a hand in this.  But God is sovereign over everything.  Which means that, just as with Job, the ultimate explanation is that God has taken something from me.

So why would I bless God?

God’s Purpose for Trials

One reason God brings trials is so he can give us an even greater experience  of Christ’s all-satisfying glory, now and forever.  I see that in 2 Corinthians 4:17 —

For this momentary, light, affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are not seen…

 This truth is also taught in 2 Corinthians 12:9 —

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

But this increased experience of Christ’s glory and power does not happen automatically.  

As Paul says in the above verses, there’s something we need to do.  We need to let the trial increase our dependence on God (“boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses”).  We need to let it strengthen our awareness of eternity (“look … to the things that are not seen”).  As we do that, God will give us an even greater experience of Christ’s power and glory.

So — when God takes something from us, it is so he can give us something infinitely better: a greater experience of the all-satisfying glory and power of Christ.

Taking Hundreds, Giving Millions

That’s why we bless the God who both gives and takes away.  It’s because when he takes from us, it’s like he’s taken a hundred dollars, so he can give us a million.

Why would I say our losses are only a hundred dollars?  It’s not because our losses are small.  Job lost all his flocks and his children.  Many of you have lost health, marriages, and loved-ones.  These losses are great.

And they rightly cause sorrow.  Just as it was right to joyfully thank God when he gives, so it’s right to humbly lament before God when he takes.

So it’s not that our losses are small.  They are big.  But what we gain in Christ is infinitely bigger.  His experienced presence is far more satisfying than anything we will ever lose.

That’s why we bless God, even when he takes things away.

Think about it.  If someone takes from you a hundred dollars, so he can give to you a million, would you bless his name?  Yes.

That’s the truth that helped me yesterday morning.  It’s that God has taken some of my peripheral vision, in order to give me something infinitely better — more of his all-satisfying presence in Christ.

By his grace, I am experiencing this — yesterday morning while sharing this with my wife, last night while sitting at my desk praying through my memory verses, and at this morning’s gathering with my church family at Mercy Hill.

Yes, God takes hundreds.  But it’s only so he can give us millions, now and forever.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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(Picture is from Gustav Dore and is in the public domain.)

Category: Problems or Trials

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29 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Blessings to you brother! Thank you for a great post but I do pray for complete healing! God is always up to something…thank you for staying the course and sharing your experience

    Steve

  2. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for posting this, I believe it will be of great encouragement to many of your readers. I like the analogy of taking hundreds to give us millions, it seems as if a season of trials are hitting many that are close to me. I believe God does purposely allow suffering and trials in our lives, but that ultimately, He is not the author of sickness and disease, but these are the consequences of our first parent’s rebellion against God.

    I agree one hundred percent that God is sovereign over all things, that He is in complete control over every atom in the universe, but we need wisdom in how we understand the difference between allowing and authoring diseases. I know we have had this discussion before, but I think it’s important to differentiate between the two meanings.

    We love you dearly my friend and we continuing our prayers for you and Jan.

    Paul

  3. Bill Schuler says:

    Brilliant! I so admire you Steve. What a great perspective you have on this unfortunate development. Thank you for sharing your life, and for living it with such dedication to Christ. I look to you now as I am suffering too, and it’s encouraging to know that we are suffering along side of each other. The past couple of months I have been suffering from panic attacks that have kept me up at night causing me to lose sleep, because of these nightly terrors. I dread night time.( it’s 4 am as I write this) I have suffered from this the past 15 years or so but the past 2 months have been particularly rough. However, God’s mercy is present and his grace is real as I press into Him for comfort. Recently, I have come to the realization that the most important thing in life is Love, and to daily find ways of expressing love to those around me. I desire to become a student of love the rest of my life.
    Bless you brother. Thank you for showing us the way! I will continue to pray for you, and trust Jesus with you.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Bill,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your panic attacks. But it’s deeply encouraging to hear that God’s mercy has been present and his grace has been real to you. Beautiful.

      I will pray for you right now — keep me posted.

      And I’d be honored to suffer alongside you 🙂

      Steve

  4. Raul says:

    Steve,
    Thank you for sharing with us what you are going through. When I read your story I was immediately reminded of the apostle Paul, how he when through a similar trial when he was at Galicia.
    Galatians 4 “13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me”.
    Please know that you will be in my prayers Steve – I believe God can bring healing to your sight, while you wait on Him, may He grant you the necessary grace, strength and faith to endure and that through this, you will experience even greater knowledge of Him – I am sure we will continue to be blessed by what God is doing in your life. I will be praying for you and your family.

    Raul

  5. Beverly says:

    Hi Steve, I am so deeply sorry to hear that you have been ill. Your always such an inspiration and encouragement to us all! I Pray for your complete restoration, and health In Jesus Mighty name!! God bless you and we all love you!

  6. Richard UK says:

    Steve F, and Bill

    Your posts have brought tears to my eyes, for which I thank you.

    I have had panic attacks in the past and God was apparently not there; another time I was in pain only partly alleviated by morphine but I was singing Ps 150.

    Who knows how God will treat us and sustain us – blessed indeed be the name of the Lord. Job has been a favorite too. I have asked my wife that, when my time comes, I want my body disposed off in a cheap coffin covered in quotes from Job “I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth..”

    So my brother, when God so enables, ‘Count it pure joy when you suffer’ because He ONLY disciplines those He loves. What will emerge could simply not have been achieved another way; so, if you can, be excited – the chrysalis shakes!

    Why praise and bless God? Well, where else do we go? Who alone has the words of eternal life? We have the best of all possible Gods!

  7. Bill says:

    Hey Steve,

    I am praying for God to heal you. You been an inspiration to me for many, many years. Just take it one day at a time and even reduce some of your workload. Me and your readers need you healthy.

    Warm regards…

    Bill W

  8. marrie says:

    Steve,

    I will be lifting you up in prayer during my daily devotionals. May God heal you. Your blog has been a great encouragement to me. God will surely come to your aid. be encouraged and strengthened in the lord.
    thanks.

    Marrie

  9. Erin says:

    Hey Steve,

    I just read this blog and it’s helping me cope with my move. I lost a lot when I left Reno: friends, family, a life I knew how to navigate. Of course I am excited to be here and get married, but that doesn’t minimize my losses. However, I thought after I read your blog, maybe God wants to give me millions.

    Erin

  10. Evette says:

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry to hear about your stroke; I’m glad that you’re doing well and I pray that God will restore your peripheral vision. I’ve come across your blog posts at difficult times in my life and they have truly helped and encouraged me. God bless you.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Easy for those who have everything to bless the lord but its incomprehensible when you lose everything I mean everything even job had his wife with him but I even lost her and I find it hard to bless when you do not have any hope of getting those things back and still fear God and follow him

  12. sherry says:

    Hey Steve, I am so sorry about your stroke and vision loss. I am praying for a complete healing. You are an awesome person, I love your post. Leet us all know how your recovery is going.

  13. Michelle says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I’ve lost something very personal to me and it’s torn me apart. As a result I’ve become very angry at God. Imagining that He took it away from me just so I could have more of Him makes me livid. I never asked for an increased amount of His presence. I was perfectly happy with the amount I had before. Perhaps the worst part about it is thinking that I’ll never be restored because He plans to give me something different. It’s incredibly frustrating. I’m sorry for the long response, I’m really broken and tired of being angry. Do you have any advice on how to move forward?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Michelle –

      I am sorry about your painful loss. And thank you for sharing your heart, and raising your questions.

      Are you part of a Bible-centered and loving church community? It would be so helpful for you to be able to share your heart with some godly, wise women who could pray with and for you.

      And if my wife and I were sitting with you right now, we would want to hear much more of your story, and learn much more about what’s happened before we share anything.

      But since we can’t be there, I will just go ahead and share some thoughts, hoping you can sense that these are shared from a heart of compassion.

      It sounds like whatever you lost was more important to you than Jesus Christ. If I am misunderstanding, please forgive me. But that’s what it sounds like.

      And if there is anything you are loving more than Jesus Christ, then you face two huge problems.

      One is that you will be disappointed, because nothing else can satisfy you fully and forever like Jesus Christ (Psalm 16:11).

      The other is that if you love anything more than Christ, then you are not trusting him. Specifically, you are not trusting his promise to be your all-satisfying treasure (John 6:35).

      And if you are not trusting Christ, then you cannot be saved, because the only way we can be saved is by faith in Christ.

      But here’s the good news. Jesus is moving towards you with open arms. If you are willing, he will completely forgive you, change your heart, and satisfy you fully in himself.

      That will not take away the sorrow of your loss. But the joy of knowing Christ will deeply comfort you, and overshadow the loss.

      I hope that helps. And again, thank you for opening your heart.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • debra morgan says:

        So we earn our salvation? You can trust God to save you but after that if you get angry at Him you will lose your salvation? I thought Christ died for all of our sins, but I guess it was more selective process.

        • Steve Fuller says:

          No, we don’t earn our salvation.

          And I don’t believe we can lose our salvation.

          But the way we know we have been saved is because we are trusting Christ, and if we are loving something more than Christ, then we are trusting whatever that is, more than we are trusting Christ.

          Which should raise questions in our hearts about whether we are really trusting Christ.

          I hope that makes some sense. And the good news is that no matter what’s going on in our hearts, if we will turn to Christ, crying out to him to forgive us, change our hearts, and strengthen our faith, he will. Every time.

          In Christ,

          Steve Fuller

    • debra morgan says:

      Michelle, I don’t know if you will ever see this but I so understand how you feel! I lost everything, wonderful things: My Mother, I had to sell the beautiful gold ring that she gave me, my house my job all my beautiful clothes, photographs that I had taken and framed, very dear to me, all gone. To live in one room, in a city I would NEVER choose to live in, in a room share situation that is eating away at my soul! I have gone hungry but lately that has been much better. Tithing is a joke and a lie. I used to love to give and gave much, now I am the one that needs help. I used to be creative but now I don’t care, can’t finish anything anyway.I get mad at God too. I love and adore Him and also feel cheated by Him. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Hope things have gotten better for you.

  14. Jon Fox says:

    Steve. My best friends dad just had a horrible heart attack. My friend is in pieces. He flat lined in front of his son and was brought back by the CFD. I’m a strong follower and a youth leader for middle schoolers. I just have never felt with anything like this. I know you might not see this, but I know you care. I could really use some help with how I can help. I’m currently at the hospital with him his family and our extended family of friends. I am praying a lot but I know that he needs to talk soon. His father could be dead tomorrow. So if you see this please respond to me. Any time is fine.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Jon —

      Sorry I saw this so late. We have just moved to Abu Dhabi to plant an English-speaking international church here, and have been quite busy.

      I will pray for you regarding the above described situation.

      My only counsel would be to do what I am sure you would do on your own — show a lot of compassion, don’t feel like you need to give a lot of answers, do a lot of praying and listening and weeping.

      Then, after some time has elapsed, it would be good to share with your friend whatever biblical truths would be relevant — God’s love for us, God’s sovereignty over trials, death as a conquered enemy, eternity, the need for salvation through Christ, how Jesus will comfort us in our times of heartache.

      May the Lord richly bless you, brother,

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  15. John says:

    I was blessed with a home. Two month later got into a bad wreck and had a head injury. Twenty six staples in my head and was out of work. I look for jobs about a month or so before I was off workmen’s comp, no luck at all. I get behind one month on my mortgage and I get served papers to invict me. God bless me that house and now im losing it!! What is the logic in something God gives you and eight months later you lose it? I don’t understand it! It seems to me that its cruel to have something like that happened to me. I tried to get help from many agencies and evryone said no. Why why does God bless you and turn around and curse you for no reason at all. I didn’t ask for the wreck and the head injury? It seems selfish and its heart breaking. Now, my credit will be destroyed. He shouldn’t blessed me with the home if he knew he would take it away and how it will keep me from buying another home. Can someone please help me put this together and understand

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi John —

      I’m so sorry that I somehow lost track of this post, but reading the other comment made me look you up.

      I’m also sorry about the loss you have experienced.

      All I can say is that because you are trusting Christ, you can know that God loves you deeply, no matter what happens.

      God’s Word shows that sometimes God does give us things and then take them away — not to curse us, but to give us even more of himself.

      That doesn’t make it easy. But it means there is a purpose, and there is hope. God will meet you now as you cry out to him through Jesus.

      He will give you wisdom. He will provide for you. He will strengthen and comfort and satisfy you in Himself.

      Do you have a church with some godly friends who can pray with and for you? I think you would also find that helpful.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  16. Nathan Reynolds says:

    God has removed almost every thing good out of my life. Health happiness, reputation, all traded for lies told about me every day. The hate and ugliness that also comes with it. God’s promises are hollow and empty. What’s the point of following God when he only makes stuff worse. If he asks might to to any thing for him, I’m busy call someone who cares.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Nathan —

      I am sorry for the pain you are going through.

      But I would humbly urge you to look to the Cross, see the excruciating agony and love that the sinless Jesus experienced on our behalf.

      He knows pain. He knows suffering. And He promises that his people will suffer, too.

      So please trust Him. Humble yourself before Him, and seek Him.

      Even if he takes everything from you, He is worth it all, and He has a beautiful purpose in all of it.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  17. noushka says:

    please help me- how can i expect increase when i seem to be losing things all year- i broke up with my partner of 2 years. then i was sexually asulted by a stranger resulting in abortion which failed so i miscarried twins. then i gained a job and lost in within a month. now im being evicted. i want to kill myself because God is dangling hope on a string but its been defferred so many times i have learnt not to ever have hope again. i have no purpose or support just the clothes on my back and internet connection to read this artical.
    please help i thought i was meant to minister to people through drawing my lifes been a train wreck all of this year with no hope of recovery let alone progress.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I am so sorry about your troubles, Noushka.

      I would encourage you to share what’s going on with some godly women in your church, so they can pray with and for you.

      Jesus will meet you, and strengthen you. And he often works through fellowship with other believers.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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