Does God Give and Take Away?

patience_of_job

Source: ArtistXero

The entire Bible is good for you, but you won’t get much out of it unless you know Jesus Christ. To understand the written word, you need to know the Living Word. Try to read the Bible without an appreciation of Jesus – who he is and what he has done – you may end up taking someone else’s medicine. Some verses will appear to contradict others and you will get confused.

In the first part of this study on God’s gifts, we looked at a sincere lady in the Bible who mistakenly believed that God gives us bad gifts like death and poverty. Today I want to look at a man who had a different problem. He believed that God gives us good gifts only to take them away again. You can probably guess that I’m talking about Job. Job had this one really bad week when his livestock were stolen, his servants were slain, and his kids were killed when a house fell on them. For some reason, Job thought God was behind his loss for he said:

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21)

If there was ever a scripture that has led to some screwy notions about God’s character, it’s this one. Anyone who has suffered loss has probably heard this verse. It’s quoted at funerals. We sing songs about it. For some strange reason people seem to find comfort in believing that God is responsible for their loss.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love Job’s attitude. He’s saying that whatever happens in life, he’s going to praise the name of the Lord. But Job said some dumb things about God. Later on Job would come to regret his choice of words. “I spoke of things I did not understand” (Job 42:3).

The question stands: Does God give and take away?

Any picture we have of God needs to be informed by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3). To get a good understanding of God’s character, we need to look to Jesus, not Job. Can you imagine Jesus stealing or killing? Of course not. So how is it that some people think that God was responsible for Job’s loss?

“But Paul, it’s in the Bible, it’s right there in black and white.” Let me put it to you like this. If you want the very best insight into God’s character, are you better off looking at:

(a)    Jesus, who said “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), or
(b)    Job, who had only heard of God but did not actually know him  (see Job 42:5)?

Jesus is the better choice! Jesus came to reveal God the Great Giver. Have you been given something good? Then see God as your source:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (Jas 1:17)

Who’s robbing you?

But what if you have suffered loss, like Job? He lost his health, his wealth, and his family. The temptation may be to blame God for your loss, as if God had a change of heart. But God is not fickle. He does not change like shifting shadows. He is an extraordinary giver who never takes back his gifts.

God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty – never canceled, never rescinded. (Romans 11:29, MSG)

So if God is doing the giving, who is doing the taking? Again, Jesus provides the answer:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

We ought not to be confused about these two different roles. One is a giver, the other is a taker. If you have been given something good, give thanks to God. But if you’ve been robbed, don’t blame God. He’s not behind your loss. And Satan is not his sheepdog.

Humans are spectacularly slow learners. From the beginning of human history the devil has been trying to steal or ruin everything God gave us and yet there are still some who think that God is the thief. God gave us authority over a planet and the devil took it. God gave us freedom and the devil somehow got us to choose the way of slavery. God gave us eternal life, health and glory, and we lost it all. But thank God for Jesus who took back what the devil stole.

Karma versus grace

If you think that God gives and takes away, you’ve missed the point of Jesus. Jesus came to reveal a generous Father and to destroy the work of the thief (1 Jn 3:8). Jesus came that we might have life to the full, not to the half.

If you think God gives and takes away, you have more faith in karma than grace. Karma says what goes around comes around. If you’re healthy now, you’ll be sick tomorrow. If you’re prospering now, poverty’s waiting around the next corner. When disappointments and hardships come, you won’t be surprised. You’ll just throw in the towel and say, “I knew it was too good to last.”

The world works according to the principle of give and take, but God just gives. The only thing he’ll take off you – if you let him – is your sin, your shame, your sickness, your worries, and your fears. He takes away those things that harm us and gives us good things that bless us.

Are you Job or David?

Both Job and David were robbed. Both were greatly distressed and surrounded by foolish men who gave bad advice. But unlike Job, David did a Jesusy-thing and took back what was stolen. Why did David fight back when Job quit? Because David “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). In his pain David considered God’s goodness and realized that God was not behind his loss. He understood that it was not God’s will for him to suffer and, so strengthened, he fought back and prevailed.

I wish I could go back in time and get to Job before his friends did. I would say, “God didn’t kill your kids! He didn’t steal your livestock and make you sick. You’ve been robbed! The devil is having a go at you. Don’t sit there in the ashes and cry about it, get up and fight! Are you a victor or a victim?”

The church will never see victory if we think God is behind our suffering. If we think God is robbing us we won’t even resist. We’ll let the devil waltz in and plunder our families all the while singing “He gives and takes away.”

Funny, but I can’t imagine Jesus or David doing that.
___________

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108 Comments on Does God Give and Take Away?

  1. The writer/commentator of the Book of Job seems to be of a different opinion as to where the trouble came from then those who deny God’s hand in this. The writer says in the closing thoughts of the book of Job that those who had known Job came and comforted him for all the trouble the Lord had brought on him.

    As to whether discipline = correction, proverbs combines the term rod with that. A rod of correction/discipline. Proverbs 22:15
    Your quote from Hebrews on discipline is a quote from Proverbs 3 which connects obedience with blessing and disobedience with discipline (not having vats full and not having physical health) Proverbs 3:8-12

    • Once again, we have a reply that sees God give out sickness and disease to His children. He does not do this. The fact is that Job is not our model for God’s relationship to His own. It is Jesus and Jesus alone. Sad that when people have something happen as far as sickness etc, they tell others that they immediately think about Job. Why not Jesus? He was never sick and in fact healed ALL who requested healing from Him. The fact remains that believers pick and choose verses that deal with judgment etc but God’s Word is very clear on who receives what. The obedient received the blessing and the enemies of God received the curses. It is very black and white. And that is outside the New Covenant. The disobedient children in the wilderness are the only generation we know of that walked in pure divine health all that time. That is a sad commentary on His church today. Healing is part of the atonement. God does not work against His son or the son against the father. Jesus came to destroy sickness and disease and He forgives all our sins and heals all or diseases. Very clear! Psalm 103:2

  2. Hi Paul,

    This was a very good article thank you for writing it. Two quick questions, do you believe God can “take away” people in your life for your benefit/His will, or for that persons benefit? And also, while we are given the freedom to choose, do you believe He has a preference on your love life, on who you should marry? Like I have heard a preacher at my school say “He is not keeping you from something, He’s saving you for someone”

    • Hi Jeremy,
      Let me rephrase your first question and you’ll know my answer. Did Jesus kill anyone or talk as thought He might? Regarding your second question, my short answer is “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” So many Christian singles aren’t finding because they’re not looking. They’re waiting for their spouse to fall down from heaven or something. Passivity is not faith. By the same token, I believe the Holy Spirit does play an active role in our lives. I would never make an important decision without His guidance. But that’s a story for another time.

  3. That makes sense on the second question, but if one does look, interact, etc, do you believe the Lord guides them to the right one, before he or she prays about the decision? And on the first question I should have clarified, I meant “take away” as the case of a friend suddenly moving away, or not able to afford to go to the same school despite prayer, taking away from an unhealthy family environment, etc. ? Hope im not confusing.

  4. What still hasn’t been addressed is that by allowing evil to happen to us, God is essentially condoning it. He has the power to stop it, yet doesn’t. For example, let’s look at the horrible abuse case at Penn State. A young assistant allegedly witnessed a horrible act, yet did nothing. I think we can all agree that the assistant was guilty of something. Maybe not the actual abuse, but definitely guilty of not interceding on behalf of the victim.

    On another note, if God desires to heal all who are sick, then why doesn’t he? As someone close to a Iraq War Vet, why has God NEVER healed an amputee? Why does God not direct limbs to regenerate?

    • In answer to your first question: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1Jn 5:19). I don’t think it’s God who is not acting, but His Sons and Daughters. In answer to your second, I have heard testimonies of limbs growing back, although I have not personally seen this. I don’t claim to have even half the answers regarding healing, but I believe there’s healing for everything. God’s not limited in what He can do.

      • Perhaps God’s sons and daughters aren’t acting to stop evil, but He isn’t stopping evil either. If God is truly omnipotent, it’s within His power to stop it, and He chooses not to. As for limbs growing back, please direct me to sources for those testimonies you’ve heard of. In modern medicine, there’s not one case of documented limb regeneration in humans. If God is not limited in what He can do, why would He choose to never heal an entire group of people (i.e. amputees)? If He heals other ills and maladies, why would He deny this one group completely?

      • The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I put your question on E2R’s FB page and have so far received a few interesting replies. I disagree with your premise that God isn’t acting. He has acted – see the cross – and He continues to act. I would not be alive today if He wasn’t acting. You scorn what you haven’t seen; I give thanks for what I have.

      • I don’t believe that amputation is a sickness – sometimes it is used to heal a sickness and at other times it is used to heal an injury. Amputation is a life saving treatment Is it not??

  5. Okay, He acted on the cross 2,000 years ago. You say He continues to act – but why just for some and not for all? Why doesn’t God intercede on behalf of an innocent child who is raped and tortured? What kind of loving father would allow his children to be so abused? Yet it happens every single day. Yes, I understand free will, but I also understand a loving father. What I’ve seen go on in this world is not evidence of one. I don’t “scorn” what I haven’t seen, I simply use the brain God gave me to question it. “Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.” ― Christopher Hitchens

    • What you believe determines what you see. If your faith is in nothingness, then the universe won’t appear exceptional, the miracle of birth – not exceptional, the beauty of love – not exceptional, the healing of the blind and crippled – not exceptional, a God who stoops – not exceptional. All the exceptional evidence in the world won’t budge you. Jesus didn’t come just to present more evidence but to challenge us to “change your mind and believe.” The price tag of life is you have to want it. You find what you seek.

      • I have’nt read every post on this topic, but it began around the time I had to have a kidney removed due to a cancerous growth on it. It was found ‘unexpectedly’ without any symptoms I knew of. I had all kinds of prayers prayed over me about this, that the growth would shrink, that I would get a new kidney, that they would open me up and find it healed, but I knew with the remarkable way God was in it all, it had to come out. I had no time to ‘wait and see’, and a month later it was removed. Now my key lesson in this journey is this; The Lord is with you and your spouse in a special way when you have to face tough stuff like this. We must see that God works in problems and problems drive us to Him. God’s goal is always the revelation of Christ in me, the hope of glory. The ghastly stuff of cancer, rape & abuse etc, is not from His hand, but God permits what he could prevent, for His purposes. He will use ‘all things’ in our lives to push us to Him. One thing that troubles me from the beginning of these posts, is that it never commenced with the whole verse; Job 1:21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” ‘Giving and taking away’ makes total sense when read in context.

      • Actually this is a response to Stewart. Stewart I’m glad you determined what had to really happen for your body to be made whole. You know maybe Job was trying to to the same, by his scratching and by his words and throwing dust on his head. But Stewart, you and I and much of the whole world have something that Job did not have: we have the better promises Stewart. What you say may make sense in Job’s situation, but even Job wasn’t content with his initial answer. He was suffering and wanted to be set free from that suffering. He questioned what he could. But you and I don’t live in Job’s time or even Old Covenant times. We live in the Age of Grace in New Covenant times. Even David had better knowledge than Job. David knew that before we were in our mother’s womb He knew us. And through Jesus Christ we have the assurance of eternity future as well. He’s alive. Stewart the knowledge of these things radically alters how we approach the problems of suffering and death. These problems are nil to us because birthed within is the knowledge of Life. As a final note, if Job had known that it was Satan and not God who was provoking his situation – what might have Job said differently? Where would his energies have been directed? Where would ours?

        To conclude, we have better knowledge than Adam. Therefore, unlike Job, we are not in Adam – we are in Christ. Spread the word.

    • Squawks 5000 // August 16, 2018 at 2:37 am // Reply

      As a Christian for a few years, I still struggle with this POE issue — it’s one of the toughest issues out there! The hardest thing is that many say to “just trust God”, but it’s hard to trust him knowing _____ happened! Although I may not have all the answers, I do have a few tips.

      1) Some thinkers say that POE claim may not necessarily be logically supported, and some thinkers say that “evil” shows the existence of God due to existence of moral values.

      2) The POE issue CAN NOT NEGATE God’s history on showing God’s love, especially Jesus’s death and resurrection. If anything, he’s so skillful at bringing good from evil [Rom 8:28]. There are many stories even in the present on God bringing good from evil and changing people’s lives.

      3) God knows that this is a tough issue. We can always go pray to him and talk about the struggle.

      I’m kinda like you in the sense that my brain likes to think a lot. Don’t let these questions throw us down!

      PS — When I meet God while in heaven, the first thing I’m going to do is ask all the Bible questions, knowing that God can reveal himself.

  6. Bruce Monforton // January 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul,

    Love the article and haven’t read all the comments but wanted to say a couple things. I to am bummed when this scripture is used to tear down Gods goodness. It’s sad when we make a theology out of one scripture.

    1. The enemy operates through fear and that is essentially what Job was doing. He was in fear over his family and how they were acting. He was sacrificing constantly and speaking in fear. Fear is the gateway to allowing the enemy into our lives. We as Christians are to operate out of faith and that is of God. When we operate out of fear it is the worlds faith and we are essentially saying God you cant help me and opening the door for the enemy to enter in that situation. The bible says if your not in faith your in fear. When we walk under the protection of God we have nothing to fear. When we step outside of that covering we are open to the enemy and the curses of this world. The Question in my mind is does God do it, or does He let it happen. This premise brings us to the second part which is Sovereignty.

    2. Sovereignty – Yes God is sovereign outside of His word. Another words God can never go against His word or it would make Him a liar. Without being to long here the reason God cannot interfere is if it would cause Him to go against His word. If we willingly walk in fear we are essentially telling God that He is not in control and that we are trusting in the enemy and the worlds ways. We are essentially handing over the reigns of our situation to the enemy to do what he wills. I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jer 29:11

    We must not ever allow what we see in the natural to create our doctrine. I am sorry when loss comes, but we can’t use that as a reason to say God is responsible due to us not understanding. God said ” I have come to give you life and life to the full. Things haven’t gotten so bad that God needs the enemies help.

  7. roger vankuylenburg // January 23, 2012 at 12:49 am // Reply

    I see many Christians suffer because they have the wrong understanding of God. How can a person stand on Gods promises if thay think He gives then takes away.

  8. Hello 🙂

    I agree with you. But when you mentioned something about “Can you imagine God stealing and killing?” would it still be stealing if he owns it? For example when someone dies. I believe that God can give and He can also take away just because He can. Though the topic at hand here is Job’s attitude that whether he experiences good or bad things, he will still praise the Lord. Also when the Lord gives you a job and then suddenly he wants you to give it up. I want your thoughts about these things please

    1. would it be called “God stealing” if it was His all along (ie. life) –
    2. like something that we own. when they saying goes The Lord takes it away so He can give you something better.

    -J

    • Roshan Easo // March 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm // Reply

      What about a Father? Does a Father own his sons? Not really. But he loves them. Do what degree is life God’s and to what degree is it a gift to us? The New Testament (and the Old Testament) talks about gifts. A gift has the spiritual covering of the Giver, but what is so amazing is that the giver chooses to give to you and to me… This is similar to the question of freedom to choose. In the Garden of Paradise, everything was available including the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But God wanted Adam and Eve to trust Him and not eat of it. Why would God even give the option? My own thoughts on freedom are being renewed of late. Yes the most important choice is to accept the ‘tree’ of Jesus. But the outworking of that tree is life and life to the full. The fact is, even though God made everything, including us, He chooses not to obliterate us, but to give us eternal life. That’s a loving Father. If we see salvation include healing and life, then we are seeing “on earth, as it is in heaven.” We were never to pray in heaven, as it is on earth. But we are to pray always for the saints, rejoicing – that we receive the inheritance of every blessing. We couldn’t be kings on this earth any other way. Remember that Scripture called us “a royal priesthood.”

  9. Right on! I know the song you’re talking about. I think it’s Newsboys, Blessed be your name. Great sounding song, very catchy,
    but not a song that New Testiment churches should be singing. It’s a lie.

    I had some friends comment about how they loved that song and I just knew the words didn’t make sense.
    Well, my comments didn’t go down too well. Thanks for explaining it so well.

  10. Phyllis Pickertty // March 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    I just lost my son to alcohalisu,, he was raised Christian & told me a few days bfore he passed he talked to Jesus every day & felt his Grandma would be with him in Heaven, I miss him so, I am ,heartbroken, he was a kind hearted young man, always helped when help was need, soft hearted, but just could not stop drinking, we tryed everything, the last year of his life was so full of pain & hospitals,jet he blamed no one, he said it was his actions that was taking his life, I am asking your opinion, will my boy have a chance to be in heaven? I have read thay he will not because he was a drunk, then have read he will be because he prayed & believed in Christ, Please send me some help. Thank You Phyllis Pickett

    • Dear Phyllis,
      I can give you something far better than my opinion – I can give you the promises of God. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:9-13). Your son is with Jesus! Anyone who tells you otherwise has failed to grasp the awesome significance of Christ’s work on the cross. God doesn’t look at your son and see his drunkenness. He sees Jesus. Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. This beautiful Lamb is without blemish.

      • Roshan Easo // March 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm //

        Phyllis, your son had the best of times in the mist of his worst of times – quite simply by fellowshipping with Jesus, your son experience heaven while he was on earth. When Peter walked out on the water, the other disciples stayed in the boat. Yet both were deeply loved. In the same way, many believers die in the prison of their sin, but the truth is that through Jesus they were already new creations, kings of this earth, not worthy of this world – they had better promises in their homes beyond the skies. When the role is called up yonder, your son will be there. Your son’s innocence is based simply on this fact – Jesus resurrected. Jesus had died for your son’s sins and all our sins. But he resurrected because of our righteousness. I think your son knew in his own way, that his righteousness was a free gift from God. He had done nothing to earn it – it was all because of Jesus.

  11. Yeah I never liked that bridge! We don’t sing it now. I’m racking my brain for alternative lyrics now, though…

  12. Thanks u just answer a question that was a heated debate with a family member. I was right he never takes away.

  13. Hi pastor, first of all, this article is really inspiring… it helped me realize some things i’ve missed about God’s grace.
    I’ve been wondering, if God doesn’t take, why does He allow us to suffer from the thief? :/
    Please help me…

    • Hi James, thanks for your question. It’s a good one. I don’t confess to have all the answers but in true rabbinical fashion, I’ll respond to your question with a question of my own: Why do the sons of God allow the thief to rob them?

  14. Let’s say you have a son, and the son gets hit by a drunk driver and dies instantly. What could you have done as a son of God to stop the “thief” from robbing you?

    My thoughts… Even if the devil is behind it, he’s not asking YOUR permission. You have no say. What scripture says anything about the sons of God allowing anything to happen? I don’t see it anywhere. You’d think that if God wanted us to just rebuke Satan every time bad things are happening, he would have clearly said it somewhere. But he didn’t. He said to rejoice in suffering, not to just have more faith and it would go away. Satan didn’t go to Job and ask him if he could thresh/sift him like wheat. Satan went to God and asked him. A good God can and does take away, BECAUSE he is good. God allows only the things to happen that will bring him glory, and it’s all about Him, not me. God does give and God does take away, and I trust in his goodness even if everything I have and am is stripped away. I trust that God knows what is good more than I do. My God turns curses into blessings. Pain and suffering in His kingdom are used for our good. There is nothing that can be done to his children that he can not use for his Glory and our good. Even death serves him and can be a blessing in His kingdom. THAT is the point of Job. To deny that God takes away is to deny part of his wisdom and goodness. God often takes away good things, and replaces them with better things. He took my mother away (for now – but I will be with her for eternity!), and gave me more peace, a closer walk, greater faith, and so many other blessings I cannot list them all. I can accept it because I love him and trust him. I choose to believe in his wisdom over mine.

    Do you have children? Have you ever taken anything away from them? I do and I have. I take stuff from them all the time, not because I don’t like them, but because I know what’s good for them, and when to much of it wouldn’t be good anymore. Sometimes they get into things I didn’t give them permission to have, and, after I take those things away they also need to be punished. Not because I like them to be sad, but because it is my responsibility to teach them, and I know the wisdom they gain from the discipline is better for them than not getting disciplined.

    My mother died of cancer, and had faith to the end of her healing. She is healed now, in heaven. For the believer, the worst case scenario is that you die and go to heaven. So I would say poverty, sickness, disease, death… they can and do affect the children of God, but only on the surface. The thief cannot take their souls, their joy or their faith, or their love of their savior. God does take away. If not, why don’t Christians live on this earth forever? If God didn’t take us away from here, we wouldn’t have the greater joy of heaven. Even the ones God just took up to heaven without dying first, they were still TAKEN. God only allows superfluous things to be taken away, nothing we really need. No one can take you away from him or him away from you.

    • Hi Abby,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I don’t think there is much we could do to stop the proverbial drunk driver. My problem is saying the drunk driver is an agent of God’s will, that because God allowed it to happen, God is responsible for all the road fatalities and murders and rapes that happen. That kind of thinking is called fatalism and is contrary to what Jesus and the other NT writers taught. I also have a problem with viewing death as a kind of blessing or promotion. God is not willing that any should perish. That means it was not His will for your mother or my father to die from cancer. Yet they died. Yes, God is a great redeemer who makes all things work together for good, but that doesn’t mean He slays people. Jesus gives life, not death.

      There are numerous scriptures indicating that God has given us authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, etc. If I don’t pray for a sick person, and they stay sick, I can’t blame God. Creation waits for the sons of God to be revealed.

      Your illustrations don’t really fit the context of Job’s story. The things you take from your kids don’t leave them sick and dead.

      Satan didn’t ask God permission to attack Job. Satan tried to manipulate God into harming Job (Job 1:8) but God wasn’t about to do that. Read it in a literal translation rather than, say, the NIV, and the exchange becomes clear.

      Apologies if this comes across as blunt – I’m trying to be economical with my words. I appreciate this is a big and painful discussion for many. My point is this: God is neither a thief nor a killer and thinking He is makes us passive.

      • Hi, I see that verse differently “God is not willing that any should perish” I understand that as God is not willing that anyone should spend eternity in hell – it is his will that all come to the saving grace & knowledge of Jesus Christ. To everything there is a season a time to be born and… and if that verse be true then ya know what’s not.

  15. I really don’t think the sons of God have much say in it, and to say that they do puts just as much responsibility on those who are “robbed,” as you put on God, when you said if God allowed it to happen then he’s responsible… The bible says in Job 1:22 that Job didn’t sin, AND that he WASN’T BLAMING GOD. So how could you say that saying God takes away is blaming God? God can accomplish his will no matter what we do. I can understand why you might think this would lead to passivity…

    As for having a problem with me thinking of death as a blessing or promotion… do you have a problem with Paul thinking that? Because he did. “now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” Phil. 1:20b-23…

    You cannot make the blanket statement that healing is always God’s will. It is sometimes his will to heal us in body, and sometimes to heal us by taking us Home. We have to listen to the Spirit and follow his leading, praying in the Spirit to know what we should pray for. I don’t really know why. I’ll leave that up to him, and maybe when I die (which I’m looking forward to, by the way) and I can see him face to face, I’ll be able to understand.

    • Abby, I trimmed your comment because it exceeded my 250 word limit. Most of your Job objections have been addressed in comments above – I encourage you to read them if you are interested and also this more recent post on Job and the comments under that. I would also encourage you to read this post on healing. God does use bad things but He doesn’t do bad things. “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong” (Job 34:12). I am totally not buying the religious notion that killing people or “taking them home” is a good thing. Death is an outrage. It’s a curse not a blessing, it’s sin’s wage not God’s gift. Paul didn’t have a death wish; His desire was to be with Christ. I know it’s difficult to appreciate that many things happen contrary to God’s will, but that’s been the history of the world since the Garden.

      How do I know God is not willing that any should perish? Because Jesus said so. “I have come that they might have life.” I appreciate people still die, but I choose to believe Jesus. I don’t base my understanding of God on what happens or what some Old Testament person said or wrote, but on who Jesus is. Jesus didn’t kill anyone. How do I know it is always God’s will to heal? Because every single sick person who came to Jesus went away healed.

      • My position is based solely on the Bible. People’s experiences cannot change it. Any power lack has to be on this side. One thing I am fully persuaded about: if everyone who is not healed came before Him 2,000 years ago they would have been healed. God’s Word is clear that He is glorified through healing not suffering outside of His clear word. Some things are hard to understand but God doesn’t change the rules along the way. That’s our basis for our foundation.

      • I’ll be honest and say I have both certainties (it is always God’s will to heal) and questions (not everyone I pray for gets healed – I don’t know why). Just yesterday my 7 year old came downstairs limping. She had a sore ankle from a big run she’d done the previous evening. I prayed for that ankle a couple of times and although she put a brave face on it, it was clear nothing had changed. She was still limping. So I got my 5 year old to pray and there was an immediate healing. The limp was totally gone and a sad kid became a happy kid. As a Dad I’m thrilled; as a part-time healer I’m puzzled.

    • Bottom line to all this is; ” For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” 1 Corinthians 11:31,32. As Paul E. said; ” Death is an outrage. It’s a curse not a blessing, it’s sin’s wage not God’s gift.” Yes, even in these day’s of inflation, this wage never changes! But what must change is us.
      Not to be condemned with the world is serous stuff. God goes to any extreme to this end. Oh, I know its not religiously correct sounding to this forum, but what other reason can anyone explain early death by sickness. It surely is not God that brings it (agree with Paul E. here), but our own lack of judging our selves. Pogo (remember him) said; “We have meet the enemy and it is us”. We are our own worse enemy, besides the devil.
      They asked Kathryn Kuhlman, why doesn’t ever one you pray for get healed? She answered , she did not know, but according to your faith be it done unto you”. PTL

  16. Paul, thank you for your responses and for remaining respectful. I have read all of the comments above, and did so before commenting in the first place. I do see that someone else brought up the point about Job not sinning in that verse, and not blaming God, and I read your response… I think it’s a bit foolish to say you understand God better than someone who wrote part of the bible, whether you’ve read the New Testament or not, but the reason I brought it up was because I wanted to bring home the point that saying God gives and takes away is NOT blaming God for when bad things happen. There is a difference. That doesn’t change with new revelation, new covenant, etc…

    • Abby, when you have two opposing statements, they cannot, by definition, both be true. If one verse says Job didn’t sin and another says he did, then you’re going to have to choose. I don’t know why you would disregard the testimony of God (Job 38:2), Elihu (Job 32:12), and Job (42:3-6), himself. In a court of law they would count as an impressive line-up of witnesses. But even if Job’s “confession” wasn’t in the Bible, I think it’s a bit foolish to follow someone who’s going in a different direction from Jesus. Only one person in scripture is called the exact radiance of God and it wasn’t Job.

      [Update: For more on Job 1:22 please see this post.]

  17. Roshan Easo // March 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    I think a lot of the problem lies in two areas:

    1) There is a misapplication of viewing sickness (whether consciously or unconsciously) as a “the opportunity to struggle to overcame more, deeper, smaller sins” when we are faced with the report of ill health. The fact is you and I CAN struggle like this – but just because we CAN does not make it Scriptural or true. The fact is we ARE co-crucified with Christ, and dead to sin. This was the truth 2000 years ago, but because we still have a flesh – we confuse the trouble it gives us with the now crucified “sinful nature.” Elsewhere it is shown that we have the nature of Christ, and it’s a poor gift (and not a good news) if God has left us bi-polar with sinful nature as well when we we were “baptized” into Christ – if one needs a physical marker in their own lifetime (though I would argue even there, this is all a work of grace, and symbols are merely helps to receive that).

    2) Secondly, if the main struggle for most of us is with a sense of our identity – sinner or saint, well…then…there is no second problem. 1) Just about covers it. We’re saints! We HAVE already overcome. The curse(s) of the fading covenant were broken 2000 years ago. Life simply catches up with the truth of our identity. Yes we may still die – but the glory of a saint dying is much better than the false humility of a saint trying to die as if he or she is still alive to sin. For that matter, the first saint will probably extend and live longer. What a wonder to forget not all His benefits!

    So maybe what I was trying to say in 2) is that once you take out this element of saved or not saved from sin, then the physical symptoms lose the momentum to linger.

  18. I fully understand how people always quote this. When I lost somebody early last year, I didn’t want to believe that it could have been God that would have taken that person away… It just didn’t make sense so I started to look at this myself.
    I love what it says the verse after the moment Job proclaims to the Lord:
    “Job did not sin in accusing God of wrongdoing”.

    For me, that says it all. Job was of course speaking out according to his faith at the moment. He didn’t know who or what took his possessions away… but he just assumed that it would have been God who had given so freely. Thanks for writing this. I was a little bit worried I was going against what alot of people hold onto in their faith in trails.

    • I think the only thing that God takes away is the sins of the world. John 1:29

      • Quoting Joseph Prince”I don’t know y christians fight 4 d rite to b sick and poor”. Personally I tink it jst apeals to our flesh dat we can endure hardship and look down our noses on odas and feel like dy r not special enof to b disciplined by God thru suffering. As one who has gone thru a lot(I’m a nigerian) I confidently say dat sickness and poverty cannot b from God and dat dy serv no purpose watsoever.eva since I discovered grace iv been walking in divine health and provision. I repeat their is no glory in suffering.

  19. Natalie Pacama // May 4, 2012 at 8:41 am // Reply

    I am just so blessed with this post. i used to really think before that GOD gives and takes away but that is a lie. I believe that GOD is a good GOD. He is a loving GOD. If I want to know the Father, I should look at JESUS and not any other people in the bible. 🙂 I just discovered the gospel of grace last January!! I have been set free from all religious mind set. praise JESUS!!! 🙂

  20. Hey Paul, it’s Sean again. Sorry I have not figure out how to reply to what you said yet. Anyways, I am not trying to say that God took Jobs kids away because he found to much joy in them. And I only use the term “toys” because I figured that you could take some other object or person in the wrong way for the illustration. So since God is in full control, what is the difference between what God wills and what is part of Gods will? So like what God directly does and what Gods plan is. If someone dies what is the difference between God killing them and them dieing because God let them die. God is in full control so isn’t it either way happening because of God killing them?

    • Your assumption that God is in full control is at odds with free will and scripture. “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). God is not willing that any should perish yet people perish. That should be proof enough that not everything that happens is His will.

  21. I recently lost my husband & was left with 2 children aged 10 & 14. When I gave God an opportunity to minister to me His words were “I have not called you to understand, I have called you to believe that I am good & that I love you.” Strangely, these words gave me great comfort. I think we each need to hear God’s voice for our situations.

  22. our good and perfect God has a good and perfect will for us. satan only wants to kill, steal and destroy everything that is (and always has been) God’s perfect will for us to have and be. Jesus perfect work stripped satan of his power over death @ the cross and made us victorious over the enemy…and all the curses related to death! the Holy Spirit even reminds us that the enemy has been judged. (Jesus defeated the enemy w/ the enemy’s own weapon!) if it is true that He gives and takes away, what would prevent a God “that gives and takes away” from “taking away” the very salvation He has covenanted w/ us thru Christ? it goes against His very nature to do such a thing.

  23. pastor oluwamuyiwa orojo // June 13, 2012 at 9:21 am // Reply

    am so blessed wit this.tank u very much.

  24. If you look at the text God allowed Job to be tested. without Gods permission the Devil wouldn’t of been able to do anything to Job. I do agree that God doesn’t randomly make people sick or just do things for the heck of it.

    • Karl, that’s a common misperception that is supported by some dodgy translations of Job 2:3. You will often hear people say, “Surely God could have stopped Satan. Surely God set Job up by boasting about him.” Both statements reflect the view that God is responsible for everything that happens and that Satan can’t act like the murderer he is without God’s permission. Read the Job account in a literal translation such as Young’s and you will see that Satan came gunning for him:

      And Jehovah saith unto the Adversary, “Hast thou set thy heart against My servant Job because there is none like him in the land, a man perfect and upright, fearing God, and turning aside from evil?” (Job 1:8, YLT)

      Why didn’t God stop the Devil? For the same reason He doesn’t stop earthquakes or famines or wars. Not everything that happens is God’s responsibility. He left the planet in Adam’s control and Adam handed it to the Devil. Satan went for Job because he could. When God said, “All that he has is in thy power” (Job 1:12), He wasn’t handing Job over to Satan – God doesn’t do deals with the Devil! – He was simply stating a fact. The whole unredeemed “world is under the control of the evil one” (1 Joh 5:19).

      [Update: For more, see my recent post “Is Satan God’s Sheepdog?“]

      • Herb Nye // June 26, 2012 at 7:45 am //

        I agree with Karl. While reading Young’s literal translation does allow for some room for the thought that Job was already at satan’s disposal, this is not what is intended from the conversation. Satan, in returning to God in chapter 2 vs. 6 is given further permission, and the language used, in the original, means: “Here he is, I put him into your hand.” And the restriction placed in both chapter one and 2 show that God has granted permission with restriction. Also, Job 42:11 says that Job’s brothers and sister comforted and consoled Job for all the trouble THE LORD had brought upon him.

      • Herb, you made the same point in a comment above. I didn’t respond there but I will now. Job 2:6 is not God giving permission – although I understand how one could read it that way. But read that verse in a Literal Translation and it looks more like God is stating a fact. “He is in thy hand.” Who put unsaved Job in the devil’s hand? I don’t like to quote the devil, but when he talks to Jesus in the wilderness he says of all the kingdoms of the world, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me” (Lk 4:6). Satan was prince of this world, yet Job and his brothers and sisters were ignorant of him and his schemes. Neither they nor Job’s friends ever mention Satan. Not once. Their grid attributed everything that happened to God – even disasters, thievery, and death.

        Evidently there are some who think the same way today. “God is control of everything,” they say. They sound more like Job’s ignorant friends and his unsaved brothers and sisters than Jesus who said this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Jesus is the EXACT representation of the Father and He said the devil steals, kills, and destroys. “I don’t do that,” said Jesus. “That’s the devil’s handiwork. He’s a murderer from the beginning.” Job’s friends and family had no revelation of Christ so they blamed God for everything. You can listen to those lost folks if you prefer but I’m going to go with Jesus.

      • Herb and Karl are right. The more people I see comment on this post to challenge you Paul, the more you twist the scriptures to fit your “truths”. You have an unbalanced view of the Trinity and I hope someday soon you can see the error of what you’re saying even though I appreciate your good intentions.

      • I fail to see how directly quoting Jesus and claiming He speaks the truth is twisting scripture. If two people say contradictory things – as is happening on this thread – they cannot both be right. Job’s brothers and sisters say “God is a murderer and a thief” while Jesus says “Satan is a murderer and a thief.” Those of you forming your theology of God based on Job are implicitly calling our Lord a liar. I am sure me saying this will ignite a war of words – and that is not my intention – but come on; pick a side. You can’t agree with Jesus and disagree with Him at the same time. The truth of any theology is not determined by popular vote but by how accurately it holds up against Jesus. He alone is Perfect Theology.

      • Pat Davis // June 27, 2012 at 9:25 am //

        Right on Paul! Because so much of the church world has bad theology in their understanding of God, when you hold forth the TRUTH you are seen as twisting the Word or bringing division. So sad! Keep up the good fight brother. It’s well worth it. God is good, giver, blesser, provider, healer, lavisher etc. the enemy is bad, stealer …

  25. In many of what has been written it is right on but even a little false witness is still false. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.

    Job 42:7 (in the closing section of the book) is pretty clear: ‘After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’

    Is now the Lord a liar or do we just pick and choose what things Job has said and declare them wrong or right?

    What may be missing is the total point of the story especially since the volume of the book speaks of our Shepherd. We need to ask ourselves the question, since all are unrighteous,”Why did God declare Job righteous?” and bring this question to the Throne Room of Grace and receive our answer, for I am not your teacher we only have one Teacher and part of the wonderful relationship is receiving the blessing of such revelation from our Lord.

    I know God is for you as am I. For if God is for you who could be against you. I am only about sound doctrine, the rightly dividing of Truth that can only be divided by the Spirit of Truth. I depart with in many words there is much sin and my hope is in these many words that they have been seasoned with the Heavenly Salt of the Spirit of Truth.

    • Another example of post hoc ergo propter hoc. You assume you hold the key to interpreting Job and then interpret alternative views as leaven. How can your preachy tone be anything other than offensive? And then you say you are for me?! By all means call me a false witness – I believe in free speech – but don’t be mealy-mouthed about it.

      Job 42:7 comes right after Job 42:6, “Wherefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” Job has been speaking superstitious nonsense for most the of the story. It took a wise young man to set him straight and even then he didn’t listen. God had to show up. Finally, Job gets it. He says, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,” and repents. In the very next verse God encourages Him. “Now you’re making sense.”

      There are only two ways to exegete scripture; through Jesus or not through Jesus. On that basis it’s quite easy to determine when Job was speaking of things he didn’t understand. One more thing, it’s not about labeling bits of scripture as right or wrong. That’s fruit off the wrong tree. The real question is, Does this bring life or death? Anything that points to Jesus brings life because He is The Life. Preaching a message that says God kills children does not point to life.

  26. Powerful insight.may God bless u

  27. Gail Praharenka // August 22, 2012 at 8:41 am // Reply

    God Bless you Paul. I have been wrestling with this faith question on suffering all my life and reading your exposure to the lie satan has been feeding me and my family has finally lifted. The truth of scripture rang out and I feel so spiritual free. I have had such a hard life early on a schzophrenic mother a genius but very sick I help her as a young girl then when I was 15 my Dad the only sane healthy one was diagnosed with terminal illness and in a year he could not talk or walk and 5 years later died weighing only 55 lbs. At the time of his diagnosis my sister started her suicide attempts, to this day she is very ill. I later married what I thought was a very nice hard working man, for 7 years it was bliss then he turned into an alcoholic and became abusive the worst was mental. At the time of my Dad’s diagnosis I began reading Job. At age 27 I received the Lord and he was and is everything to me. But, I struggled with suffering. Now my husband has adulterated on me and is trying to rob me and the boys of all are assests with his new girlfriend.
    All throughout my troubles I fought against sin and injustice and against my mother and sister’s negative give up and lay down and died additudes. I fought against the immoral of drinking and the fraud my ex did. I now realize the scripture that the Lord has been giving me is to keep up as a warrior of God and fight the lies of the doctrine of suffering is at the hands of God. I have been given so much hope from God but I had “doubt” that God is causing all of this why is He against me why would he cause so much trouble on me. I now realize that is not by his hands in reading your article! He has been helping me, supporting me and saying fight on against injustice. Thankyou Paul, I have been wavering on fully embracing faith in God’s Grace and Goodness only til now. God Bless, Gail

  28. Paul: The thief is hard at work in my family. My wife is using “God takes away or at least God allows bad things to happen” as one of her justifications for ending our marriage of 25 years. In no way a perfect marriage, but pretty good 23 years (24.5 in my book) with 3 kids and certainly no abuse, other females, addiction, etc. There is of course another man (The thief incarnate 4 times divorced) which she now denies as just a friend, after admitting an emotional affair. She seems convinced that because God does not intervene every time a baby is dying, etc, he must have “allowed” her to lose feeling for me and fill that space with this other in the name of his greater purpose, thus ending our marriage is a justifiable path to his bigger plans. I very much did not handle everything correctly after finding out about the affair. She uses this to say there is no marriage. There is and will always be a marriage. While I certainly don’t have the answers for babies dying, I can surely differentiate between this and the free will choice to end a marriage that he created.There is no way that it is God’s will for this marriage to end and I am not willing to give her a divorce (I still love her, She is sick with an addiction right now, I will not allow our entire family to be destroyed) which angers/saddens her (she wants to be divorced and under the same roof). Any Words of wisdom and prayers are certainly appreciated.

    • Brian, I feel for you. You’re in a difficult spot. Good on you for being a man and not throwing in the towel. It looks like you’re fighting for your family and your marriage. God cares about our marriage – he invented it! But if your wife chooses to walk away God won’t override her choice. So I will join with you in praying for HELP – that God may give you grace and wisdom so you know how best to act. I will also pray that he will give her a full understanding of the consequences of any choices she makes. My prayer is that she won’t make a mistake she’ll come to regret. I am sure others reading this will pray too.

  29. Regina Smith // October 4, 2012 at 1:39 am // Reply

    Thank you!!! I have been a Christian all of my life. I have, for many years, believed many things based on my confidence in men’s word. Men whom I still know love God. I have had a fear of “now that I live faithfully for God what will He permit as he did for Job” afraid to completelytrust because I didn’t want the carpet pulled out from underneath me. God has been revealing to me Who He is…I have started, a few months ago, to go over truths in my head and heart with Him and I have asked Him to show them to me in His Word. I want to know if what I believe is true. There are some things that I just don’t question bc of one on One moments w Him, but there are things that don’t line up with Who He seems to be to me. Eg. “You give and take away” I asked Him, “God, how can that be so when it doesn’t match any other part of You that I know?” So, I started going to a new church that I believe He led me to. The worship leader flippantly in conversationsays, “Yea, like the crazy idea that God gives and then takes away- Job was in despair when he said that and people have based many circumstances on it– on despair!” I was blown away- still am! I felt so liberated from fear at that moment! Oh how my God delivers me!!!!! So, then as I walked with this new conception in my heart, I realized once again that I had taken a man’s word for it. “When will I learn?”- I asked myself. So today I was reading in James and I got to 1:17 – need I say more? 🙂 Then, I thought, I want to know where it says that in Job. I Googled it- I found your site and read it!!!! Then, I read it for myself in the references you offered. As I sit here, sobbing and typing, I truly am free from that fear!!! Thank you for posting this!!!! I know, for sure now!!!! I am not afraid!!!!!!!

  30. Good word. Well said. Too much of the Church today believes God is the taker. The enemy. Thank you for putting it so clearly.

  31. Amen! Thank you for this insight. My spirit agrees!

  32. What a terrific article. I have been coming to the same revelation and your thoughts are almost identical to what I have been coming to. It first started as wondering how many christians say, “God works in mysterious ways” when referring to a miscarriage or “its all part of God’s plan” when their house is robbed. I am fed up with christians placing these attributes of death and destruction upon God. You word things so well and your clarity and insight to the scripture is terrific. Thank you for putting into words what my heart has been meditating on.

  33. Julius Ntabanganya // December 19, 2012 at 5:32 am // Reply

    Hi Eric, I don’t know if anyone has responded to your post which among other things contains these words “… Does God heal? I believe so, but only when it’s His will. Is it always His will? I don’t believe so. God’s will will be done.” This is my response given with all sympathy and love.

    1. How did you arrive at this conclusion i.e. that it’s not always God’s will to heal and that God’s will will be done. Since Jesus is the ‘exact representation of the Father’ according to Hebrews 1:3 and He went about ‘doing good, and healing ALL that were oppressed of the devil’ according to Acts 10:38, doesn’t that settle the matter of God’s will on healing for us today?

    About ‘God’s will will be done” that is clearly unbiblical as 2 Tim 2:3, 4 says that God our Saviour will have all men be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” yet we know that not all men will be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth – only those who believe on the Lord Jesus.

    This is not meant to win you over as one might want to do in an argument but to encourage you to continue in faith knowing that it’s Gods will for your child to be healed. When you do, you will receive the promises for your sake, your child’s sake and the watching world (that they might glorify your Father who is in heaven). What promises? You might ask. How about Psalm 103:3, 1 Pet. 2:24 for a start.
    Shalom,
    Julius.

    • God lays out His will very plainly in both the Old and especially the New Testament. He sent Jesus to be our healer. Jesus does not work against the Father. They are in unison with each other and desire to heal. The bottom line is this;: When people pray for God’s will for healing; they almost never see a healing. If people pray believing for one it much more often happens. That has been the black and white of healing with our ministry in the US and when we travel abroad. Some people on healing teams see many more people healed then others. There is a requirement of faith and asking for God’s will is approaching a person with all the responsibility on God’s shoulders. He told us to “heal the sick.”

    • brandonhutzell // December 20, 2012 at 1:56 am // Reply

      Julius, (and Pat). I have seen many sick people, full of faith, who believe God’s will is for them to be healed, receive agreement in faith-filled prayer from others who also believe God’s will is for them to be healed. Yet a healing does not manifest. Can you please explain this according to your position?

      • So funny Paul!! Totally agree!!! Been there and done that many times. God is the healer and we are learning.

  34. Julius Ntabanganya // December 19, 2012 at 5:40 am // Reply

    Oooh I had forgotten to mention how your articles are a great blessing to me Paul. Keep writing, I follow you with the devotion of a stalker.

  35. Does suffering comes from God?

    I guess my answer would be no. However, following God does set us on a path of suffering.

    When we choose to be used the Lord for His will, we are bound to get hit by the devil and his minions in this great spiritual war. We are also bound to encounter trials, obstacles and persecution of all kinds. The devil will not stop at anything to destroy your faith and relationship with God — just look at what the devil wanted to do to Job! The price of following Christ is to take up our cross daily. No one said it would easy, and certainly not the bible. The bible does tell of numerous blessings but also warns us of suffering. Jesus himself said that in this life you will have trouble.

    This is why I hold the belief that God can use suffering for good. He does not cause it but he certainly uses it to mold us, to shape us to who He wants us to be. At times, suffering is an ingredient in God’s test. His test is not to pass or fail us, but to prove us — to prove that we are ready to serve and attempt greater things for him. God doesn’t want to use suffering to fail us, he already knows we will succeed the test since we are the real deal, created in His own image. God uses suffering to make us better.

    – For he makes ALL THINGS (the good and the bad in our lives) work together for my good

    – He gives and takes away. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this statement, like most other statements from Job’s friends, the statements are used in the wrong context. God is not in the business of giving blessings and taking them away, as we know from scripture. But what does God take away? He takes away our sinfulness, our unbelief and even things that we deem as blessings…. but all in all, it’s still for our good.

    Disclaimer: I’m not saying that God gives us stage 4 cancer as a ‘test’ but I’m saying that He has a plan for your life no matter what…. and it’s always good. The devil wants to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY your relationship with God…. everything else the devil does is achieve that primary purpose of leading you away from God. So yes, pray and believe that God will heal you and if He does not, rejoice in the fact that He is using you — we can’t see that full picture yet when He is in the process of using us, the Creator who is in control of all things CAN!

    Long post, appreciate if you don’t cut it. Thanks and God bless to all.

  36. Thats wonderful! This will serve as eye opener for most of us. Thanks

  37. It seems that the Christian world, as we know it in America at least, would be well-served to remove the Old Testament from our Bibles for a few years UNTIL we all have enough understanding of the New Testament (New Covenant; Jesus’ Finished work) to be able to understand the Old in light of the New (because everything in the Old points to the New, not defines it). Of course, I can already hear all the Legalists gasping and accusing me of violating Revelation 22:19 (taken out of context as usual) by even suggesting we remove part of our Holy Bible.
    “Religious sin is the most destructive kind of sickness…” – Gregory Boyd, “Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgement to the Love of God.”
    Thank you, Jesus that You came to heal us, even from the sickness of religion.

    • Gordon, your quote reminds me of this one:

      “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.” ~CS Lewis

      • Yes, as you’ve pointed elsewhere – the religious ‘bad guys’ were the ONLY people whom Jesus confronted with a degree of holy anger; but He DID confront them. Everyone else, He loved and healed.

  38. brandonhutzell // January 15, 2013 at 1:28 am // Reply

    “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14

  39. Does John 10.10 really refer to the devil? It doesn’t seem to, to me.

    • In this passage Jesus is speaking of religious leaders with diabolical agendas but we may rightly see these thieving destroyers as offspring of the devil.

      When speaking to some leaders like this, Jesus said: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Joh 8:44). So those who steal, kill, and destroy are carrying out the devil’s desires, not God’s desires. When the serpent showed up in the guard he used cunning and deceit to steal our inheritance and condemn the human race to death. So while there are many thieves and killers, it is correct to see the devil as the thief and the killer. As Jesus said, he has been a murderer from the beginning.

  40. Nandi Geiger // January 24, 2013 at 6:54 am // Reply

    This is so true and so necessary for believers to understand. Thank you for writing this. It has truly helped me clear some things up especially about God’s character and who he is. Its all a matter of knowing the word and having a close relationship with God too. I’m learning that the closer I get to God, the more love (agape) I show, the more peace I have, and I am filled with the fruit. Thanks for this.

  41. Read Brokenness (How God Redeems Pain and Suffering) by Lon Solomon. This book is a great read if your a Christian facing a tragedy. My husband and I were in a car accident while I was pregnant, I had to have an emergency C-section, and our son suffered a brain hemorrhage. Our son never walked or talked, all because a guy ran a red light. He suffered through fifteen surgeries, and died two weeks before turning six. In spite of everything though, he was happy and life with him was full of joy, and I know that God was sustaining us daily. God permitting and God causing, seem pretty much the same. I believe God is soveriegn, and always in control.

    • Dear Anne,
      I’m heart-broken to hear the story of your son. I’m doubly heart-broken to hear that you think your heavenly Father was in some indirect way responsible for your loss. As you know from precious experience, God redeems our pain and brokenness. But he doesn’t cause it.

      • You really should read the book I mentioned. Brokenness: by Lon Solomon. I actually find comfort in the fact that the Lord is’nt just an uninvolved bystander when it comes to something tragic impacting my life. I believe in an Almighty God. That being said I also know that God is love and He has blessed us in ways I never could have imagined. God can use tragedy for His ultimate glory and to fulfill His purpose.

      • Anne, I totally agree. God is a great redeemer. This is nothing he can’t fix and make beautiful. I know from personal experience what it is like to walk with God through the valley of shadow. In a strange way, the lowest points of my life have become my most treasured memories because God was there with me.

        And thanks for the book recommendation although at present I literally have 30 unread books next to me that are demanding my attention. I encourage you to check out the link I gave you above about the sovereignty of God. I think it will bless you.

    • brandonhutzell // February 21, 2013 at 2:57 am // Reply

      Anne, Your trust and dependence on God through your trial is inspiring. My parents also lost their firstborn son, he died in my mothers arms on the way to the hospital at about 6 months with heart problems. I agree with you… I would rather believe that God allows pain, even what seems to be unbearable pain, for a (relatively) short time. (very, very short in light of eternity) for a divine, glorious, profitable purpose, than to believe He was absent when the devil comes to get us, or our children. God was, is, and will always be with you… and the sufferings of this present age are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in you. I can’t wait to meet you and your son in Glory.

      • Thanks for this article, Paul. It is very much needed today.
        For those who want to know the truth, two very good books i’ve found on this topic are, “Is God To Blame? Beyond pat answers to the problem of suffering” and “God at War” both by Gregory Boyd. The first one is an easy read and gives real-life examples of the importance of understanding this issue from a scriptural basis. “God at War” is a much more thorough study of the issue from scripture for those who want to understand more fully, or who grapple with the scriptural basis. Among other topics, it covers the free will of all God’s created spirit beings, and how that works in the spirit realm as well as the ‘real-world.’ Boyd also discusses the Sovereignty of God in light of man’s free-will.
        Regardless of our opinions or experiences, we must always get our theology from the Word of God, otherwise, we will never truly know our Father and we will often be confused or deceived. Jesus came to show us the Father so we would know this One whom we have a relationship with.
        However, it isn’t about being right in our theology; it’s about being His. Many are comforted by an Ultra-sovereignty view. But, if we are wise we shouldn’t want to passively allow the Enemy to deceive us.

  42. Hi there, My name is Chris McLean, I am a believer from New Zealand, and I came across this post randomly! I have been encouraged by some of the graceful posts on this thread!

    I have read through so so many of these posts, so that I do not repeat what is already said. I have been illuminated something recently which I think adds to Paul Ellis’s thread. Paul, I disagree with your post about the Lord’s power, will, goodness, and involvement in human suffering.

    I can also speak from experience as a fellow human sufferer! However there is (I believe) no greater reference of evidence than in God’s Word. Romans 5 verses 1 to 5. In verse three, Paul speaks of “rejoicing in our sufferings”, because they produce perseverance, character, and then hope. My sufferings have produced perseverance, and this then leads to character (maturity) (though I am only 23 years old), and therefore Hope, that the good work which He began in me, He will carry on to completion – and even unto glory.

    Paul, I have never met you, and I respect your passion for Jesus and your passion for what is ‘good’, but friend, from your responses, examples, and your post, do you think that your feelings have influenced your understanding of what our God is capable of? How can we understand Him? We are yet mere men, graced with mercy to see Jesus Christ and our sinful state.

    My wonderful God allows me to suffer in health or injury every year (at least once) – and though I do not ’embrace’ the sickness as such, I accept that God is reminding me so often to not rely on my health alone, or my body, but in His arms. I would not take back any of the suffering, because I look back, and see so much of what He has taught me.

    Thanks for the grace and perseverence in reading these posts, and I hope you read mine. I really do care for this subject because I am overjoyed with the truth of the bible.

    For Jesus Sake and Glory,

    Chris McLean

  43. Hi, I have been very interested and challenged to read this now rather long and old post. I have been to a funeral of a faithful young mum today, passionate and receiving great comfort as she worshipped her Lord as she faced cancer. This verse from Job was quoted by her elderly father as he prayed. I understand the idea of entering battle when sickness comes as a torment from the enemy. However, Jesus didn’t heal all that were sick, though all that he prayed for were healed- yet he loves all the world. He did also say that the poor would always be among us. I don’t think this means that we don’t fight sickness, injustice and poverty- he came to heal the sick, broken hearted etc (as fulfillment of Isaiah 61). I think the thing is, we live in the age of “the now and not yet”. He has defeated death, such that we can declare, “where o death is your sting?” knowing we have an eternal destiny, however, the new heavens and new earth (of Rev 21) have not yet come. Thus, the devil still has power in this time. Does this mean we don’t pray and believe for healing? Absolutely not! Does this mean we will always see it? No, and the why of that is in God’s, not our, understanding. It would concern me that those who have faith but don’t see healing will blame themselves for not having enough faith when it may be a lot more complex than that- God is kind and does not condemn. My other comment about the original Job text is to see life as being in God’s hand and therefore being his to give or “take away”. (Ps 90:10 suggests our years are given to us and Ps 139:16 God recorded the days of our life were written in his book). We are the clay, does he not have the right to determine when our day to go home is. This does not mean we have “perished” of course but taken from suffering, pain and sorrow of this fleeting world. I hope my trying to express briefly has still managed to convey what I mean. Thanks for the thought provoking comments, be blessed in your journey with him!

  44. Child of God // April 5, 2013 at 5:31 am // Reply

    I disagree. I think God uses suffering as a tool to shape us or the people around us. Did God not send His only son to die for us? Is that not suffering? In a way suffering is a blessing.

    • God makes all things work together for our good… including suffering…
      but the point is, do you see yourself as a victim of the circumstances that are causing you to suffer? or do you see yourself as a victorious conqueror over the circumstances that Jesus gave you the authority to use…? 😉

  45. Paul, I would like to offer you another suggestions as I believe your view is not correct or faithful to the text…

  46. Awesome Paul, Finally someone who knows the Gospel… Our feet are shod with the Gospel of Peace,,, Okay on the previously comment at the first with Brandon He said Job 1:12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold , all that he hath is in thy power. I just wanted to give some clarity on this. God was not giving power to Satan to attack Job. God was merely saying Satan he is a man everything he owns is in thy power to attack him. But he says don’t touch Job himself. Satan was so stupid he didn’t even know he had the right to attack him. You see Satan in Job 1:11 wanted God to touch him, but God said if you want to commit harm to Job you do it. Everyone thinks God took down his hedge around Job but if you really read it. Satan was stating a question in 1:10 And God more or less said there is no hedge around him if you want the power is in your hands. And the power was in Job’s hands to stand up and act like a man and declare himself unto God and repel Satan. Stay strong Paul and God Bless you….

  47. Bellinda Baatjies // May 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm // Reply

    Enterpretation has shed some light, God is love

  48. Hi Paul, today I copied and pasted the link of this article to my facebook wall. Later on, I noticed a friend of mine (a Baptist minister) had his own post regarding this article. He said it was leading people astray, that grace preachers are tickling people’s ears, and that what we believe is just plain wrong. Then he quoted Exodus 4:11. I tried to share with him other things, backing everything up with scripture, stating it was OT, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Said my stance was wrong. I’m kind of hurt by this, although trying not to be. What do you say to people when they throw stuff like that in your face? I’m discouraged!

    • Hi Mary, sadly this is a very common experience. You have to pick your battles and most of the time I say nothing at all. Just preach the gospel and let the Holy Spirit do what he does best. These are arguments where nobody wins as you can probably see from some of the comments on this thread. Those who have seen grace cannot be convinced it’s not real; those who haven’t seen it yet cannot be convinced it is – except by the Spirit of revelation.

      For your own benefit, and not to inflame the situation with your minister friend, you may be interested in this post I have written on Exodus 4:11.

      • Thank you very much for that Paul. I won’t post it, you’re right, it would most like inflame the situation. But it is nice to understand. I appreciate your help!

  49. “I want every single person who reads this to be 100% sure and certain that it is God’s will to save every lost person and heal every single sick person every single time. You may say, I don’t see that happening. Well look at Jesus. It happened for Him. He’s the one we follow.”

    Paul, I ran across your site after doing a search concerning the subject of “sin” and have enjoyed the countless hours I have spent reading. This quote was from you a while ago but just read it so hoping you are willing to answer.

    My question is your meaning of “It happened for Him.” Are you saying that all were saved and all were healed during the earthly ministry of Jesus? If so would you provide a reference. I agree 100% with you that it is His will for these things to happen but we know they don’t. Although I do believe that all are healed physically, however some are this side of glory and some the other.

    Thanks again for your heart and passion. I have certainly been blessed.

    • I’m saying Jesus healed every one who came to him for healing and we should base our understanding of healing on him and not our own experiences.

      • I wish every believer would get on board with this truth. I’m so tired of hearing doubt and unbelief speech. Isn’t that “why” people “don’t” get healed? Because of doubt and unbelief?

  50. Thank you for this I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it. But I think God needed me to. You see were losing the battle with cystic fibrosis and my 9 month old nephew.

    • Hi Jess,
      I’m glad you found us. I hate cystic fibrosis with a passion. Everyone of us reading this is standing with you in faith against this illness.

    • Lisa Radice // July 4, 2013 at 5:28 am // Reply

      Dear sweet Jess……prayers going up for you, your nephew and family…….it can be difficult not to focus on what we see with our natural eyes and refuse to accept the doctor’s report and just take God at His Word and believe for healing, but we must. I seriously believe that if everyone in your family will speak life over that baby with focused and aggressive faith filled words, “he will live and not die”……prophecy! prophecy! Miracles are as real today as they were when Jesus walked the earth. When satan gets aggressive in his attack, I believe we need to get more aggressive with our faith and speaking LIFE into whatever situation we are facing. I would also ask God to heal any unbelief and to silence the voice of anyone who is speaking doubt or unbelief or death over your nephew. ❤

    • Jess, I believe you are receiving some unhelpful advice from this discussion thread as well as some good. Yes we are to pray in faith for healing, but leave the result in God’s hands. Anything else that falls at your feet to do is not correct. We leave it at the feet of Jesus. If He does all the work He gets all the glory. We cannot systematise God. He can do anything, but the object of faith is ultimately seeing Christ in us, the hope of glory and we don’t trade anything for that!

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