THE GOD WHO TAKES AWAY
“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” [Job 1:21]
Let us now think, for a while, of the Lord’s hand taking away from us as well as giving to us. Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” Some of you have come to this service very sad and heavy of heart because that dear child of yours is dead. Well, I do not blame you for sorrowing over your loss, but I pray you also to remember that it is the LORD who hath taken your child away from you.
You say that it was the fever that took away your dear one, and perhaps that was the immediate cause of your child’s death; but if you can realize that the fever was only the instrument in God’s hand to remove the dear little one from your care to His own, surely you will dry your tears. And as for that substance of yours, which has almost melted away under the fiery trial to which it has been subjected, so that poverty now stares you in the face, you will be able to bear even that when you remember that it is the Lord’s hand that has taken away what His hand had first given.
So long as we look at the secondary causes of our trouble, we have reasons for sorrow; but when our faith can pierce the veil, and see the Great First Cause, THEN our comfort begins. If you strike a dog with a stick, he will try to bite the stick, because he is a dog; but if he knew better, he would try to bite YOU, and not the stick. Yet THAT is the way that we often act with the troubles that come to us; we fly at the second causes, and so are angry and petulant with them; but if we would always recollect that it is GOD who taketh away, as well as God who gives; — that He is at the back of all our trials and troubles; — that His hand weighs out our share of grief, and measures our portion of pain, then we should not dare to rebel and bewail; but, like David, we should say, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it!” [Psalm 39:9] even if we could not go up higher still, and say, with Job, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
GOD DOES NOT DO A THING BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT, BUT THE THING IS RIGHT BECAUSE GOD DOES IT!
Further, when once we know that God has done anything, that fact forbids any question concerning it. It must be right because He did it. I may not be able to tell why, but God knows why He did it. He may not tell me the reason; but He HAS a reason, for the Lord never acted unreasonably. There never was any action of His, however sovereign or autocratic it might appear to be, but was done “after the counsel of His own will.” Infinite wisdom dictates what absolute sovereignty decrees. God is never arbitrary, or tyrannical. He does as He wills, but He always wills to do that which is not only most, for His own glory, but also most for OUR REAL GOOD! How dare we question ANYTHING that God does?
My dear sister, rest assured that it is better that you should be a widow, and seek to glorify God in your widowhood. My dear young friend, believe that it is better that you should be an orphan; otherwise, God would not have taken away your parents. It is better that you, dear friends, should lose your eyes; it is better that you should be poor, or diseased, or else the Lord would not let you be so, for “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” If health and wealth were good things for you, God would let you have them. If it were a good thing for saints never to die, they never would die. If it were a good thing for them to go to heaven at once, they would go there at once. If you are walking uprightly, you may know that you have all things, which, all things considered, would be good for you. Some things, which might be good in themselves, or good for others, might not be good for YOU; and, therefore, the Lord in love withholds them from you. But, whatever He gives, or takes away, or withholds, raise no questions concerning it, but let it be sufficient for you that the Lord hath done it.
Besides, when we know that the Lord takes away our possessions, the knowledge that they are His effectually prevents us from complaining. Suppose you are a steward to a certain nobleman, and that his lordship has been pleased to entrust you with ten thousand pounds of his money. By-and-by, he withdraws it from your charge, and invests it somewhere else. Well, it never was your money; you might have complained if it had been. But you are only a steward, and if your Lord pleases to withdraw His own money, are you going to be out of temper with your Master because He does what He wills with His own?
Suppose you have a banker, — and we are, as it were, the Lord’s bankers, — and suppose that, a week or two ago, you paid into the bank a thousand pounds, or more, and the clerks or those in authority were pleased to take charge of your money. But suppose that you went to the bank today, and drew it all out; they did not get angry with you. You would not like to trust a banker who was only civil to you when you were paying in money; and if we are God’s bankers, He sometimes puts His treasure into our keeping, and sometimes takes it out; but it is not OUR treasure any more than our money is the banker’s when we entrust it to his care. It is on deposit with us, and we ought to be paying to God good interest upon it. Whatever God has given to us, He never gave it as our own freehold. ’ It was always on a lease; — a lease, too, that had to be renewed every moment; for, if God chose to cancel it, He could do so whenever He pleased. How dare we then complain?
To use another figure, our Position is like that of a nurse, into whose care a mother placed her babe, and the nurse dandled the child, and was glad to have the charge of it; but when she had to return it to its mother, she cried over the loss of the little darling. Yet it was not the nurse’s child, given to her to keep; it was only hers to nurse. So it was with your children whom God has taken home to himself; they were not yours to keep. The Lord put each one of them, for a while, into your charge, and said to you, “Christian mother, take this child, and nurse it for me, and I will pay thee thy wages;” so, when He called the child back to Himself, why should you complain as though He had wronged you?
Or, to use another illustration, which has been frequently employed in this connection, — a gardener had been specially careful in tending one particular rose, which was yet fair to look upon; but, when he went, one morning, to his favorite rose-bush, he found that the flower, of which he had taken such care, was gone. He was very vexed, for he thought that some bad boy had stolen into the garden, and taken away his best flower. He was complaining very bitterly of his loss, when someone said, “The master has been down in the garden this morning, and he has been admiring this rose-bush, and he has taken away that fine bud of which you were so proud.” Then the gardener was delighted that he had been able to grow a flower that had attracted his master’s notice; and, instead of mourning any longer, he began to rejoice.
So, should it be with anything upon which we have set our hearts. Let each one of us say to our Master, “My Lord, if it pleases Thee to take it, it pleases me to lose it Why should I complain because Thou hast taken from me, what is really Thine own?
“If Thou shouldst call me to resign what most I prize, — it ne’er was mine; I only yield Thee what was Thine: Thy will be done!”
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” [Job 1:20,21]