Does God Give and Take Away?

The whole Bible is good for you, but 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 – and you may end up taking someone else’s medicine. Some verses will appear to contradict others and you will get confused.

In an earlier article, I looked at a lady 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:

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 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?

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?

“It’s in the Bible, it’s right there in black and white.”

Let me put it another way. If you want the 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 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?

When you suffer loss 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 John 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 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!”

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.


More articles about the sufferings of Job.

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21 Comments on Does God Give and Take Away?

  1. The verse about resisting the devil is regarding temptation, Satan not only comes to kill steal and destroy, but also to tempt us away from God by sin. If we will stand firm in faith, submit to God and resist his temptation, he will flea from us.

    In response to your comment about people being sick or oppressed, Jesus healed those who came to him because he had compassion, but also to show that he had authority over evil.
    However, we know that God didn’t heal everyone who suffered, Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12) God didn’t heal him, but said ‘My Grace is enough’.
    If God didn’t allow sickness of suffering at all, bearing in mind that suffering is many times God’s way of refining us, then no one would be sick, and yet there are many ill people, who have and haven’t prayed for relief, with no result.

    If God didn’t allow or permit evil to some extend, not being the one to DO it, then he would stop it altogether. There is so much evil that God does prevent, but we have no idea about it, because it’s not come to pass. We only know of what God does permit, why don’t we realise for a change that God has higher reasons for allowing all evil, that we may never understand like with (Job) but thank God for all evil he has stopped.

    • There are numerous scriptures recording that Jesus healed ALL who came to him. He had a 100% success rate. That’s the standard. The question is not why some are unhealed, the question is why so-called believers refuse to believe that God’s will is to see people free. It happens because we confuse faith with unbelief by telling ourselves that God is behind our sickness or that the devil is his employee. Imagine if Jesus thought like that.

      Let me put it another way: what do you think the devil would like to believe in a tragic situation like the one faced by Job. He wants you to believe that (1) it’s God’s will and (2) there’s nothing you can do about. Now contrast that with what Jesus actually did and you will see that our choice is to follow Job or Jesus.

      • I know and believe that God allows evil to happen…..because it DOES. God is sovereign, if he doesn’t want something evil to happen, he stops it. He hates evil, but permits it and uses it as a tool for the good of his people. No matter what bad you encounter in life, will you choose to trust God anyway? He works ALL things(good and bad) for the good of those who love him.

        Yes, everyone who went to Jesus were healed completely, all in different ways, but we’re healed. However, there are also plenty of stories where God hasn’t healed his people, why? – because he’s teaching and growing us through it. Im struggling with something right now myself, but I know God is teaching me much through it, a lot I don’t and won’t even realise until much later, but I’m learning.

        You will never grow in your faith, if you never encounter adversity, suffering and difficulty. If God just gives you the easy way out all the time, you’d never get stronger. Butterflies have to wrestle their way out of a cucoon, if you help them actually they’re worse off. Plants push up through concrete. Your faith muscles ain’t gonna grow if they’re not stretched worked.
        Freedom sometimes is instant, sometimes its a process, or sometimes its through death itself and going to be with the Lord.

        The bottom line is, God does allow evil for HIS own purposes and he is very much in control of it, or else the devil would be long out of business…..and clearly is not yet.

      • I have written elsewhere on the sovereignty of God.

    • Hi Chloe, God is only good, there is not even a shadow of darkness in Him. Jesus came and showed us what a real son of God believes, and belief is the system God works through. God wants us to believe He is a dear Father and He cares affectionately for us. This belief will heal our hearts and turn the world upside down.
      Jesus said “all who came before Me were thieves and robbers”….it was like the dark ages, people had lost knowledge of a God who is Love, and there was a view of God that was not true. Jesus came and corrected that.
      It is vital we believe in a good loving God, our brains need healing and liberating. The religious folk in Jesus time knew all the scriptures, could quote whole books by heart, but they couldn’t see the True God when He was standing right in front of them. God is our loving Father…and He wants us to believe He is only good, Jesus told us this.

  2. God is sovereign, but he has also given us free will as well as the enemy at work. He gives us wisdom in the Bible to live by, to get wise counsel and his HS leading us. God is not responsible for every bad thing that happens. Yes, he COULD stop if he wanted to, but at the same time because he loves us he’s not going to invade the free will he gave us to keep us from every single stumbling block. He’s give us the ability to think and reason for our selves and we should use that to honour him (ideally), but to also live decent lives.

    I know what I believe, and I always put God first, and acknowledge him when bad things happen, so I know how I should deal with it. Just like King David did when all those people you’ve written about in your article were take captive from him. Turning to God in all your ways and getting his guidance on your next step is wisest. Is it a test (Job) or is it a battle (King David)

    • Right chloe, because he’s teaching and growing us through it. This is exactly what Paul was telling us in 1 Corinthians 11, God is not responsible for every bad thing that happens, as such happen when we do not judge ourselves. But, if we do, as you say, “the easy way out” it is there, if we take it! 1 Corinthians 11:31,32 “For if we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged, but when we are judge we are chastened of the Lord (Hebrews 12:11)”. This teaching goes against the modern grace teaching (which is true to an extent), as God is good (all the time!) but his goodness is shown in his scourging, Hebrews 12:6.
      As David said relative to Hebrews; “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” Psalm 118:18.

  3. God could definitely take away what’s His. Everything that comes from Him is His. And He wouldn’t be a thief if He takes back what’s ultimately His. Satan on the other hand would be called a thief because he is taking away something that wasn’t his to begin with. I know when Jesus first came as a man His ministry was to seek and save the lost but we can’t deny that when He returns He’s coming with Judgement and He will be taking people’s lives, literally killing those that are against Him with The Antichrist. So yes He can be a killer but He’s not a murderer like a criminal. His killing is just unlike a criminal because His killing is out of His Just Authority against sin. God gave life and He has the Authority to take it away.

    • richard elson // March 23, 2020 at 12:18 am // Reply

      Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

      In Isaiahs time you may have been confused about the true nature and character of God. God’s loveliness was misrepresented because men created gods in their own natures, and by your comment you are still doing that now without receiving the clarity Jesus offered.
      The Word of God was manifest as flesh, separating(dividing) spiritual and physical.

      Jesus is the exact image of God, the nature and character of Jesus is the nature and character of God.
      Men refused this truth about God 2 thousand years ago, preferring a god that was more like a blend of themselves and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator instead.
      We all have to be sure not to use our old natures to sideline Jesus to leave room to redefine God as a monster.
      That’s called blasphemy.

  4. I think just the fact that we are all alive and have what we have is such a great testament in itself of how Gracious and Loving God is. And He wouldn’t be wrong or out of Character if He decided to wipe us all out because of how greatly He hates sin. I know He is not the cause for all suffering because certainly our sin is the only reason for why there is any suffering at all. But we can’t forget that God is a just God and Him deciding to drown the world through a flood is not something that’s outside of His Character. And so the story of Job is a great revelation of how dependent we are on The Grace of God.

    • Zack the true God is exactly like Jesus, and He can never change. Jesus and the Father are ONE and the same. Who did Jesus kill, no-one…then neither does God kill. Jesus severely rebuked his disciples for wanting to call down fire and destroy a village…Jesus told them that was NOT of his Spirit. Pretty clear.
      The meaning of sin is ‘to forget who we are’…to not know Who our Father is and where we have come from, to live under darkness, diablos = of the fallen mind. Sin is not the things we do.
      The story of Noah is an allegory, just like Jesus spoke in parables…and without a parable He did not speak to the people ( Matt 13:34). The stories have a meaning, they are not to be taken literally.
      We need clear heads (unveiled) to be able to see our true Father, and this fallen mindset talk about a god who wants to smite his kids does not come from the lovely Father of Life. We’ve been blinded by man’s theology, I can’t say it any better than Richard Elson has said above: a blend of fallen mans thinking and Arnie’s terminator. A monster.
      We’ve been liberated from having the fallen mindset thinking if we see God as Jesus portrayed Him to be.
      If my earthly father decided to drown me because I didn’t live up to his standards, I would not think he was gracious and loving and neither would you I hope.
      Jesus came and showed mankind a completely different version of the god they had believed in. A good, kind, gentle, giving, compassionate, merciful God. That sort of God wins my heart and I am grateful beyond words that this is the real Father of mankind.

      • If sin is not the thing we “do”, then why did Paul tell us to “sin not” 1 Corinthians 15:34, ? Why did John say, “sin not” 1 John 2:1, or did they really mean “stop your mind from thinking dark things”? When a person crafts a lie in their mind and then deliberately tells this lie, they have manifested that sin, or made it “evident” , as “the works of the flesh are evident” according to Paul Galatians 5:19-21.
        No, John tell us explicitly that sin “manifest” (shows its evidence) by what we do, and this doing of such, separates the Child of God from the child of the devil, 1 John 3:10.
        And no, the story of Noah is no allegory, as Jesus himself spoke of it, Matthew 24:37-39. If it was an allegory why would Jesus compare his “coming again” (a pretty big deal) to a made up story? No, he would always make it clear, if it was a parable, by saying it was “a parable”. As he used the parable speaking of “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” Matthew 13:35, and the flood was no secret!

    • richard elson // March 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm // Reply

      I know where you’re coming from, I’ve been there. These thoughts are only possible if we choose to define our relationship with God from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
      Zac, all our conclusions are generated from that tree.

      When I saw the person and character of Jesus as the greatest revelation of the true nature of God I was able to filter all other impressions and so called “inspired revelations” of who God is and false understanding of how God relates with men everywhere.

      Jesus sat with sinners, shared meals with sinners, blessed and healed sinners,rebuked and kissed sinners. . .and then suffered and died for them.

      God loves sinners.

      Pharasees hated sinners and seperated themselves from sinners and condemned them.

      Adam thought that God hated sinners and sort out methods to offset his shame at the same time that God was willing and waiting to comfort, hug and hold the naked and desperate Adam. . . to rescue him from the place called self-righteousness.

      While Adam remained the source of his own righteousness Satan’s accusations remained true.
      If God overrode the Adams misunderstanding of their relationship, Satan’s accusations would remain true.

      When men run back to the father because they know his true nature is love, life, restoration and forgiveness only then are Satan’s accusations are proven false, we are not just creatures guided by our senses to understand our relationship with God our Father, we are spiritual beings who disregard our senses and judgements made in the shade of the tree of the knowledge.
      We leave that tree and choose to live in the spirit of life beside the tree of life.

  5. richard elson // March 23, 2020 at 12:57 pm // Reply

    “Zac all YOUR conclusions are from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”

  6. God is sovereign. Sovereign. Over the entire Universe. He has a will and He uses whatever means necessary to achieve His will. So, for each and every child of God and the unique purpose He created us for… He does give Satan authority to inflict pain and suffering upon us at times in our lives only to shape and mold us into His image and to ultimately achieve His perfect will. Job is no exception.

  7. Matilda Tobin // October 13, 2021 at 5:33 am // Reply

    Hello! I have a question. If the statement job said about God “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away” is a lie, how do I know for sure what scriptures in the bible are true? For example psalm 34 ” the righteous cry and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” How can I know that’s a true statement when Jobs theology where not in line with the truth and in addition David writes in one other psalm (88) “thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.”And in psalm 13 he says “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?” Why should I only believe the “good” words of David and not the bad? I really struggle with this. I feel uncertain when I read the bible because I dont know what parts are true. If we come to the conclusion that both David and Job have bad theology then lots of comforting bible verses I have spoken to myself, written by David, now disappeares because I am not sure they are true. Thank you!

    • That is a really great question, Matilda. There are many verses in the Bible that should not be read out of context. For instance, Solomon said, “Money is the answer to everything” (Ecc 10:19). David prayed that spectacularly bad things would happen to his enemies, which is inconsistent with what Jesus said about loving our enemies. And of course, there are many strange sayings in the law. For example: “You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you” (Lev. 25:44, NLT)

      In the article above and the examples you mentioned, we are hearing from men who are in huge pain. If you have been in pain, you may have said things you did not mean or which proved to be untrue. I am glad these statements are in the Bible because that’s how people talk. That’s how I sometimes talk.

      But how do know which verses are good for us? We need to filter all we read through the cross. The whole Bible is useful for training in righteousness, even the bits that sound unrighteous, as long as we filter everything through Jesus the Righteous One. More here and here.

  8. Matilda Tobin // October 14, 2021 at 12:49 am // Reply

    Thank you for the answer! I have read your articles. Basically I have to intrepret the verses in light of what Jesus has done on the cross. So I’ll try that. It sounds incorrect that God would forget us (like David said in psalm 13) because on the cross Jesus made peace between God and man. Is this the right way to interpret the verse? Or can you help me intrepret these verses?…

    • Glad to help. If you have questions about other scriptures, check out The Grace Commentary or the Archives > Scripture Index here on E2R. I’d like to keep this discussion thread focused on Job 1:21. Thanks.

    • richard elson // October 14, 2021 at 10:59 am // Reply

      God has always been at peace with us, however our perspective of God was from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . .so . . . we judged ourselves naked, guilty, and subject to judgement. Our efforts to reduce our shame via fig leafs of self righteousness was in an effort to be presentable before the angry, judgemental God we imagined from the tree of judgement.
      The book of Job shows that God’s default position is that men are righteous. . .independent of our actions or superstitions.
      The love that men understood at the cross was already there since before our creation.
      When we accept/understand that our God is primarily a loving, self sacrificing Father the conclusions we gained from the tree of judgement are rejected. . .and the accusations of Satan fall on deaf ears.

      When we view God from the tree of life we will come to know his true nature and character is exactly like his son Jesus.

      We have nothing to fear, the increasing knowledge of his love towards us drives out all fear.

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