“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:10)
This morning I stood before 200+ students at Evans Middle School in Lubbock and said, “The first Bible verse I ever learned was John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (We all quoted it together.) I continued, “This verse sums up the Good News of the Bible. ‘God so loved that He gave….’ But what about when God takes away?”
That last question sort of hung there in the air for both the students – and for me.
This Saturday, 12/14, marks the one year anniversary of a maniac walking into a Newtown, Connecticut, Elementary School and killing 20 children and 6 educators. The people of Newtown have asked national media to “stay away” and let them grieve.
This Friday, 12/13, marks 7 months since my 19 year old son, suffering from clinical depression, took his life, causing the earth to shift under our feet.
What about when God takes away?
Do we “roll up the tent” and go home? Satan is wagering we will. But I’m not going anywhere.
Why? Because, in Christ, our story has forever merged with His story.
Paul put it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)
At Christmas we celebrate the manger. And in that manger is the embodiment of God’s “Story”: “Emmanuel, God With Us” (Matthew 1:23). In that manger is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) In that manger is the One who makes paradise/heaven possible for us all by removing the barrier created by sin, and bringing us near to Him by His blood (Ephesians 2:13). In that manger is the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:10) who is the King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16) who is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8) who is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Because Job knew even the worst pain of earth is not “the end of the story,” (cf. Romans 8:18) he was able to cry out in the face of the enemy, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Merry Christmas, St. Nick