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You Give And Take Away

This week Jason and I have been eyewitness observers of an extraordinary range of life experiences. Tuesday we visited our friends the Brittons who just had their first baby, a beautiful little boy named William. This Saturday we will attend the wedding of two young people from our church. On the other end of the spectrum, yesterday we went to a memorial service for a young man who died tragically last week. We also have been praying for our dear friends the Almengors who have been practically living at the hospital with their baby, Judah, due to unexpected elevated pressure on his optic nerve, causing a great deal of frustrating uncertainty as to why this is happening, and how to treat it.

On the car ride between the memorial service and luncheon that followed, Jason and I were talking about the amazing fact that the joy of gifts like a child or a spouse, and the pain of severe trial like death or disease can have the same end: greater longing for God in Heaven. If we receive gifts and blessings and fall in love with the blessing itself, not looking to the hand of Love from which they come, we are more tied to this earth. Gifts are intended to increase our affection for the Giver, and thus increase our longing for Him. The ultimate blessing will be an eternity in His presence in Heaven. All of the good things we encounter here on earth are mere foretastes of what awaits us in Heaven.

Pain and suffering also potentially create a longing for God. This world is fallen and full of trouble. Tragic events like the pain of losing a beloved son remind us that we are not home. We long for a better place where there will be no more tears of sorrow. We long for Heaven, not just from the relief of suffering, but for the joy of living in God’s presence. Trials and suffering wean us from this world, and help us to long for our true home: Heaven where the Prince of Glory dwells.

I am well acquainted with the blessings of life. I pray that I will remember the Giver of the gift, and grow in love and longing for Him. Profound suffering is still foreign to me. Yet I know that if I live long enough, hardship will come my way. I pray I will be like Sandy and Sal Barranco, Lawrence and Briana Almengor, and so many others I have watched long for God more in the midst of suffering. May our hearts echo what we sang at Tim’s memorial service yesterday:

You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name.

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2 thoughts on “You Give And Take Away

  1. “Trials and suffering wean us from this world.” How well said. And yet how quickly we want to rush out of our trials and relieve the suffering that others are going through as well. There’s a mystery.

    When we pray, “on earth as it is in heaven,” do we want all the gold of heaven and yet still want to hold onto the silver and bronze of earth? Hmmm.

  2. Laurie,
    Thanks for posting this. How true this is, and while my faith falters (you are well acquainted with what that looks like for me), I do stand back at times amazed at the good work God’s doing in me and those around me through Judah’s suffering.
    A while back I came across this quote from Spurgeon. It was short enough to remember, and its truth has never been more felt than in the last several days:
    “Happy is the suffering that loosens our grip on earth.”

    When we came back from the opthamologist on Wednesday night and began to grow more acquainted with the intensity these last couple days were going to hold for us, I went to my book shelf and pulled out, “In Light of Eternity”.

    It is clear that God has written eternity on our hearts. It is what we long for, and one of my prayers is that those who encounter us at Hopkins will get a taste of the longing in their own hearts for God and for Heaven by interacting with us.

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