Why does God give and then take away?

Last updated on September 6, 2021

Why does God give and then take away?

God gives so much, and yes, it is true that God does sometimes take away as well. It seems almost cruel to give and then take away. But let us keep in mind that the Bible clearly teaches us that God gives out of abundant love, not in a mean-spirited way. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God’s only Son is the greatest gift God could give to undeserving mankind, but He did it, so that you and I would not have to perish but enjoy eternal life in His presence! And “He, who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

God loves to lavish good gifts on his children in abundant fashion, be it what we need for daily life, or love, peace and joy. David knew about this trait of God: “They (the children of mankind) feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” (Psalm 36:8)

God does take away sometimes

As said earlier, God does take away sometimes. He took away Job’s children, wealth, and health (Job 1:13-19). Although God was not the immediate agent, He allowed Satan to make all the calamities in Job’s life happen – and Satan could have done nothing without God allowing him to do it (Job 1:12). Why did God allow so much suffering to come into Job’s life? Why were all the good gifts which were given to Job by God, allowed by God to be taken away from him?

Job himself did not question God’s right to do this: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) And: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). He accepted that the Lord is sovereign and can do as He thinks is wise — although Job did cry out to God in despair because He didn’t understand God’s ways. He acknowledged that he did not deserve these things in the first place. At the end of the book Job God’s generous heart is showing again when Job gets all these gifts poured down on him in a lavish way (Job 42: 10-13).

Job never got a direct answer as to why all these horrible things happened. God impresses upon Job that He is the almighty and sovereign Creator and Ruler of the universe (Job chapters 38-41). Ultimately it is not for us human beings to know why God takes away as He does. His wisdom is infinitely higher than ours. Having said this, Romans 8:28-29 does give us a glimpse of God’s wisdom in dealing with us. All things that happen in our lives work together for good, to bring out the image of His Son in us who love Him! It is not happiness in the first place that God wants for us, but holiness.

Additional light

The end of Romans chapter 8 sheds additional light on the topic of suffering. It starts with a quote from Psalm 44:22. In this Psalm the plight of Israel is being lamented; and God being called upon to come to their help, because they are His chosen nation, after all! In Romans 8:35-39 this quote is being framed by the certainty that even if great suffering takes place in the lives of God’s children – His chosen people – this will never result in separation from His strong love for them! Even if God sees it right to take cherished things from us, He will never stop to pour out His greatest gift out on us, as expressed in Jesus Christ: His eternal love.

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