Blessed Be the Name of the Lord

​If you’ve been a Christian or in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard at least one sermon preached on the book of Job. By all accounts, Job was a very wealthy man. And yet, in one day, Job lost everything he had—his possessions, health, and even his family. Despite his unimaginable grief, he still testified of God’s goodness: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

​Whenever I read Job, I was always perplexed by this verse. I could clearly see how Job would praise God for what He has given but not for what He had taken away. That was beyond my understanding—until recently. 

​Since I so often come to God with needs, I’ve tried to make a habit of thanking and praising Him the moment after He gives me something. Last year, in particular, I’ve had much to thank the Lord for—a master’s degree, a trip to Israel, a dream job on Capitol Hill, and a new car. So often, this is how we proclaim God’s goodness, by sharing what He has given us. But if we read Job closely, he also thanked God for what He had taken away. 

​This is what the Lord has been teaching me lately, that there can be far greater blessings in what He takes away. Recently, God very clearly took away a dream that I had. I was crushed, heartbroken, and devastated and grew bitter, resentful, jealous, and depressed. But slowly, through His Word, prayer, music, and the counsel of some trusted friends and mentors, God has used what He has taken away to draw me closer to Him. Over the past several months, I have had some of the sweetest and richest times in prayer that I have ever had with the Lord. Many of those prayers have been cries of desperation, with many tears shed. I know that God has met with me and heard those prayers, promising that He keeps our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). 

​I have heard people say before that they were thankful for trials. I once heard a lady say that she was thankful for cancer because of what it taught her. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how someone could thank God for such a painful situation. But now, I think I am beginning to understand. The trials of 2023 have drawn me to my knees like never before. And for that, I am thankful. 

​I am thankful that I serve a Savior who intimately understands both our physical and emotional pain because He endured it all during His time on earth (Heb. 4:15). He knows the frailty of our human frame (Psalm 103:12). 

​A few months ago, a mentor asked me, “Is Jesus really enough?”. I couldn’t honestly answer then that I believed He was. Yes, I would preach that; but deep down, I only believed that Jesus was enough as long as that included a good job, a car, a house, a wife and family, friendships, and a host of other things. 

​Now, I am slowly realizing that Jesus is enough, but it took bringing me to the end of myself to realize that. It took crushing a dream to help me see that His plans are so much greater than my own and that He knows my needs so much better than I do. 

​I have received great encouragement through the writings of Elisabeth Elliot, who wrote extensively on the purpose of suffering. The following two quotes have ministered to me greatly over the past several months, and I pray they will do the same for you:

God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts’ desire except to give us something better.

He makes us wait. He keeps us on purpose in the dark. He makes us walk when we want to run, sit still when we want to walk, for He has things to do in our souls that we are not interested in.

​“Sometimes we want things we were not meant to have. Because he loves us, the Father says no. Faith trusts that no. Faith is willing not to have what God is not willing to give. Furthermore, faith does not insist upon an explanation. It is enough to know His promises to give what is good-he knows so much more about us than we do.”

​In Job 13:15, Job again declares, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” May that be our prayer in times of trial—God’s plans are so much greater than our dreams. And whatever that plan may be, may we humble ourselves and submit to Him. Nothing can touch us that does not first pass through His sovereign hand. And when we can’t see what’s ahead, may we simply declare, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!”

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