First He giveth, then He taketh away…

I’ve been going through some stuff lately. It started with something big (my mom’s cancer diagnosis), which I’ve had complete peace about. And she’s doing great. But then all these little unrelated things started happening… my dishwasher broke… pipe busted in the wall of my condo leading to mold, weeks of remediation, multiple failed air quality inspections… my brand new washer/dryer broke… my car is making crazy sounds and seems like it’s ready to call it quits… and, worst of all… I mean, this one’s horrible… brace yourselves… my WiFi isn’t working. The horror!

Now. My mom is doing well. My health is great. My kid is great. I’m surrounded by loving, sympathetic people who offer me their homes, cars, washing machines… these are all just minor inconveniences. And I’ve been through so much more in my life. Seasons of despair and devastation. Seasons of tremendous loss and grief. Seasons full of fear and uncertainty. This is nothing compared to that.

So why is it affecting me so much? Why do I feel like I’m in survival mode? Why do I feel emotionally drained and that I have nothing to offer those around me who are hurting and need encouragement?

I’m not sure. But over the last few years, I’ve learned that our emotions don’t always have a whole lot to do with what’s happening at this moment. They can be triggered by what’s happening now, but rise up from somewhere much deeper, emotion from some moment in the distant past that was never sufficiently dealt with.

I woke up this morning with a Queens of the Stone Age song in my head, First It Giveth.

It’s a song about drugs and how they influence the music creation process. Not helpful to my situation. So why could I not get it out of my head?

The chorus is a distorted fun-house mirror reflection of a verse from one of my favorite books of the Bible, and the one I identified with most during my first season of confusion and grief over the loss of my health. Job.

At this point in Job’s story, he has lost everything. He doesn’t know about the conversations that have taken place between Satan and God. He doesn’t know that he is being tested. That he has been chosen because of his faithfulness to endure this test for his own good and God’s glory. He doesn’t know that 42 chapters from this moment, he will be blessed with twice as much as he had before. All he knows is that God has taken everything that ever meant anything to him. (Well, he still has his wife. But she’s not exactly encouraging. “Curse God and die!” is her advice.)

Throughout the book, Job has some questions. He struggles. His friends aren’t always helpful. But in the end, God shows up and reminds Job who He is. (The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator of all that is, ever has been, or ever will be!) And He lovingly puts Job in his place. (“Who are you to question me? Where were you when the foundations of the earth were laid?”) Job is humbled, continues pressing forward in faithful obedience, and ends up being an amazing example for his faithless friends, his hateful wife, and everyone who has heard the story for thousands of years.

So what does this mean for me? I’m not really mad that God has taken away my dishwasher, my washer/dryer, my entire kitchen, or my WiFi. I’m still mad about the loss of something much more important to me. A loss I’ve grieved, and fought to forgive. A loss I may not ever truly get over. But God is using these seemingly insignificant inconveniences to pull back another layer of the healing onion… another layer of unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness that needs to be peeled off and discarded.

Because He is good. He is good, and He is all the things He claims to be in Job’s story. He is all powerful and sovereign over EVERYTHING. He knows everything from the thought I’m going to think 7 minutes from now to what the mitochondria in the cell of the frog in my backyard was doing 20 seconds ago. He is EVERYWHERE all at once, and in every time. He can STILL affect my past, and He is already in my future. And He loves me. He loves me. This Perfect Creator. This Holy God. He loves me.

So if He took something away that I desperately didn’t want to lose… no matter how much it still hurts, no matter how much I want it back, no matter that I can’t make sense of it with my limited understanding and perspective. He is God. He is good. And He loves me. I can trust Him.

He giveth and He taketh away.

Now, if He’ll just give me my WiFi back so I can publish this post…

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