How many times have you heard this phrase: “The Lord gives… and The Lord takes away?”
And how does that make you feel?
In my experience, it’s usually a hollow consolation. It’s something meant to acknowledge that God is in control in a time of loss. But for me, it brought little comfort. To be completely honest, for a time I just thought God was a jerk.
That is… until the day my entire perspective changed.
The Great Take-Away
My discovery started while exploring the scene between Jesus and his disciples as Jesus breaks the news that he is going away.
This band of followers had sacrificed so much. They left family and jobs. They drew the ire of some of the most influential members of their society. But they considered it worth it all… just to follow Jesus.
And now, God was going to take Jesus away… the Great Take-Away.
The only reason the Disciples weren’t more angry is that they didn’t get it. It wasn’t due to lack of effort on Jesus’ part: he tells them exactly what’s coming:
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy” (John 16:20 NLT).
The Lord gives… The Lord takes away… hollow consolation for the Disciples the morning after Jesus died.
Until they realized the promise Jesus left them:
“So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy” (John 16:22 NLT)
Reunion… Rejoicing…a joy that the world cannot give, and the world cannot take away.
As I mulled over these words, I learned two things that changed my perspective forever: Time, and Trading.
God’s Time vs. Human Time
Said simply, humans look at time in a line. We have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
So no wonder it’s little consolation to hear a phrase like, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” In our linear view of time, it ends on bad news. We’re left with loss.
But as I read the scope of Scripture, I’m convinced that God views time in a circle. God’s efforts to bring us back into union are ultimately trying to take us “back to the future…” to restore that relationship that existed between humans and God when it all began in the garden.
A circular view of time changes a phrase of hollow consolation into one of everlasting joy:
“The Lord gives… The Lord takes away… and The Lord gives.”
Now, if we leave it there, we just have a lot of change and chaos. But it gets even better!
Here’s the thing about God’s circle. When God takes, God gives something else. And when God gives, it’s always something better than what God took!
In short… God always trades up!
- God takes those who hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness… and gives them shelter (Rev 7:16-17)
- God takes broken bodies, pain, and sickness… and gives healing and hope (Rev 21:4)
- God takes a broken world, lost in darkness… and gives a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1-3)
- God takes His son… and gives us life forever (John 3:16)
The Lord gives… The Lord takes away… And The Lord gives even better!
I don’t know where you are right now in this season of giving and taking, but God does. And the same God, who didn’t even spare his own Son to reunite with you, wants you to know something:
God gives better than what God takes, and
What God gives… no one can take away… ever!
What stories do you have to share where God has given… or taken? How do you relay hope to those is a season of loss?