“God gives, and God takes away. But let’s be honest: We just want him to give, don’t we? And we certainly don’t want him to take away the things or the people that we love.
… But the truth is, everything we have is a gift. … You and I, like Job, know that God gives and God takes away. And when he takes away, if we’re able to focus on the joy of what was given, if only for a time, we take another step down the pathway toward the heart of God. Would you be willing to thank God for a gift he gave you and has now taken away?” (Holding On to Hope, Nancy Guthrie, pp. 23 and 24).
In this book, Nancy shares the lessons she’s learned from her study of the book of Job as she walked through her own pain and loss. Each chapter ends with a gentle but heart-piercing invitation to trust God and turn it over to him in a new way.
Back in 2004 when I first read this book, this invitation to be grateful had deep impact on me. God had
shown me early on that what he was calling me to was to lay everything about my life on the altar: my marriage, my daughters, my ministry, my relationships, my schedule, and my hopes and dreams. He wanted it all. It’s been painful to give it all over to him. It’s a fearful thing to let go of the gifts of life as we know it … even when I know in my deepest heart that he intends good for me and this act of faith will give me more of him. That is better than anything I have in this life.
So, can I be grateful for what he has given and now taken away? Yes. I’m grateful for the ways God shaped and formed me through my ex-husband, and without him I would not have my two beautiful daughters.Though scarred by this time of life, they are so beautiful, so precious, such a treasure to my heart! And while life has changed, I’m so grateful. He has grown me to greater understanding of who he is and helped me fall in love with him all the more. My reputation now has a hurt connected to it, but God knows my heart and has let others see that as well. Coming out of this fire refined has given him more for the kingdom.
It’s God and his character for which I am most grateful. He is good and loving and gentle even as he holds the universe in his hands and commands the army of hosts in the spiritual war all around us. He comes in smoke and fire and power, and he comes with whispers and the humility of suffering for me. He is what causes me to stand firm in the shifting sands.
For a decade there was a lot about life that felt like something was taken away. But in this challenge to be grateful for the gift given, even if it was taken away, I found joy and freedom. I grieve many losses, but I am so blessed and grateful that God chose to give them to me in the first place! Now, 11 years on from that devastation, I am celebrating beauty from those ashes. Most certainly he has kept us in the shadow of his wings.
Your love is beyond my words.
Your power humbles me.
Your tenderness woos me to give it all up
and stand in gratitude for the gift.
I love you.