Jan 7, 2014
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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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Six Reasons Heart-Satisfaction Is Crucial
- Is This Trial From Satan Or God?
- God’s Loving Purpose For Every Trial
- How Spurgeon Saw His Trials And Suffering
(Picture is from Gustav Dore and is in the public domain.)