While at church a few Sundays ago, our praise and worship team sang “Bless it be the Name of the Lord.” When our praise team got to the lyrics “He gives and takes away” I had to stop singing. All I could think of was that I was declaring that God gives His blessings and He takes them away. I spoke to our praise team leader afterwards and shared my thoughts as well as why I couldn’t sing the rest of the song.
That conversation made me research the origins of the song. I discovered the song writer, Matt Redman, wrote the song soon after 911. Matt Redman stated that “the spiritual and emotional climate of the times was an important factor in the birthing of this song.” The nation was looking and needing to find an answer to the destruction that 911 caused not only to our land but to our hearts and souls. Many turned to God for those answers and found peace in His presence.
God wants us to turn to Him not only during times of trouble but all the time. The song is not saying God takes away His blessings, because God never will remove His blessings from our lives. However, that does not mean that we will not face problems. God’s word tells us “… in this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It can be easy to blame God for taking away His blessing from our life when tribulations occur. And to be honest sometimes we are so angry that we feel the need to direct that anger at someone. And God can appear to be an easy target. He is in control of everything, right?
The answer to that question is yes and no. Some of the pain we experience in this life is of our own doing. And because God created within us the ability to choose right and wrong, we at times can and will choice to do wrong. I know that can be hard to accept, but unless we take responsibility for our own role in our troubles, our ability to let go of the pain will be hindered.
The tribulations that come with no warning can be the hardest. The loss of a child, the end of a marriage, an accident that changes everything, a sudden illness. How can God allow this to happen? If God is so good, then why do bad things happen? That is a question that has been around since the beginning of time and will be around until the end of it. The answer can be found in the same scripture mentioned above, “.. in this world there will be tribulations.” This answer will not take away the pain instantly, but as you stand on the second part of that same scripture, “.. but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world”, the pain will slowly lose its sting.
So Matt Redman was right, God does give and take away. He gives us a “crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Why? So we can be called trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord for His glory.