Is God a Taker?
Suppose you have a close friend—the type who knows you inside out. She knows that you’ve been praying for a car, so she uses all her own savings to buy a snappy little Mustang for you on your birthday.
Quite a gift.
Now you can enroll in that local college you were looking at—the one that was too far away from public transit. Now you can take that job you were offered—the one you couldn’t accept before, because you had no means of transportation.
Then one day, out of the blue—mid-semester—you open the garage door in the morning. The car is missing.
In the car’s place is a note with a smiley face—from her. Hey! I’m taking the car back now. Sorry about that! Something better is on the way, trust me. You know I love you. This will be good for your character. Peace!
How quickly will you trust her again?
The God Who Takes Away
You give and take away
You give and take away
You give and take away Lord, blessed be your Name . . .
Normally, we’d call behavior like that cruel. Normally, we’d call behavior like that unstable.
But with God? We expect it—and we sing about it. How? What do we do with a God like this?
Patterns of Loss
God has given me health, jobs, churches, romance, ministries, new homes, roommates, financial provision, and more.
He has also taken away each of the above—and more.
When I receive something good from Him, a part of me feels wary. I want to test it—jiggle it around and look for the expiration date. I cock an eye at it and ask myself how long I can reasonably expect it to last.
Perhaps you are equally familiar with the patterns of loss. Perhaps you also feel guarded when things appear to be going relatively well.
The Giving God
There are many intentional problems with my opening analogy. I wrote it in an effort to describe the way we often perceive God’s patterns of giving and taking—not to describe how He really operates. If the way we view Him mirrors the way we view the girl I described, we are not seeing Him as He is.
No, God is not safe.
But . . . taking is not the end of His dealings with us. The final note does not land on the word gone.
Our God is fundamentally generous. He is generous with His gifts, and He is generous with Himself.
The question is: Do we see Him as such? When we think of Him, is it in light of His great giving or is it in light of His taking?
What to Expect
No good gift is built to last—not here on earth. So it is right, and wise, to hold our gifts loosely. There is no guarantee slip for tomorrow.
Except one . . . or two, or three.
1. God will never leave you or forsake you. (Heb. 13:5) Did you notice, in the intro, how I painted the fictitious “taking friend” as absent? She left you stranded, fending for yourself. Our God does the opposite. Even when you feel abandoned, He is near. He does not take away His Spirit, and He will never leave us to “fend for ourselves” in our brokenness. We have His Word on it.
2. God is trustworthy. (2 Tim. 2:13) He is not temperamental. He’s not a God with mood swings. He is not indifferent to our suffering. He is not flippant, carelessly taking from us while He whistles a merry tune. When God says “trust me,” He has something to back it up with. Those are no empty words. He went to the cross for us. A God who gives His life for our eternal joy is a God who can be counted on to hold our ultimate, highest good close to His heart.
3. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. (Rom. 8:35–39) His love is not a trifle of words paired with a sucker-punch to the gut. He does not wound us “just because,” or to teach us a lesson. Life is broken in this age. There will always be loss. Like Job, we may never be given a clearly-spelled-out “why.” And yet, in the absence of a why, we are still given hope: no loss separates us from the Giver of all good gifts.
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you see God primarily as a taker? Or do you see Him as generous?
- If God takes everything we treasure in this life, why should we trust Him?
Written by Lindsey Wagstaffe
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