The book of Job ministered to me greatly in our season of pregnancy loss and infertility. I would remind myself of God’s goodness and power over my own fragile life as I read about the life of Job. It was only through his suffering that he saw God for who he is. And I wanted (and still want) to be that person as well. Job 1:21 was a lifeline for me. God has the authority to give and he has the authority to take away. Everything I receive, whether good or evil, is ultimately for my good and greater joy. Since I have gotten pregnant I have had a harder time camping out on the fact that “he gives”. While I should be rejoicing in this good gift, I have often doubted his sincerity in giving me this blessed gift. In my worst moments I would only dwell on the second part of the verse. Sure, he gives. But I would dwell on all he could and has taken away.
When Job spoke to his wife in the following chapter he said “aren’t we supposed to expect both good and evil from God?” (Job 2:10). When God takes something away from us, we should not be surprised. But when he gives us good things it shouldn’t startle us either.
When I first got pregnant I kept waiting for God to take the babies away. And I must admit it’s still a near daily struggle for me. While I don’t have a hard time believing that God is sovereign, I do have a hard time believing that this sovereignty means anything but the right to arbitrarily take away every good thing from my life.
In those moments, my thoughts reveal that I fundamentally have a sinful view of God. I am viewing God as a cosmic being who snatches goodness from us just for kicks, instead of believing that he is the gracious and loving God that the Scriptures point to. God delights in giving good gifts to his children. Even Jesus touches on this when he encourages us to consider how much God cares for us, even more than earthly fathers ever could. And this is relevant for how I even prepare my heart for Christmas this year.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas 2013 we are reminded that God is a God who lavishes us with kindness in ways we can’t even begin to count. We should expect good from God, and not only evil. We should believe that he is for our good and not our harm. We should believe that he delights in giving us good gifts year after year.
How do we know this?
The baby born thousands of years ago reminds us of these truths. The fact that God came to earth to save us from our sins is the greatest gift of all. The baby in a manger is a tangible reminder that God is for us, not against us.
And as I sit here with two busy boys having a party in my womb I am overwhelmed by God’s kindness to me this Christmas, but not just this Christmas, every Christmas before it, too. The Christmases of past years were only preparation for the joy I feel this Christmas. They were all a gift from our gracious God. Christmas of 2010 and 2011 were only a prelude to the excitement of this Christmas. It was as if God was saying to me in those years of sadness, “hold on, dear Courtney. I am giving you the gift of suffering, but I am preparing for you the gift of gladness very soon.”
I am praising God today for all the ways he prepared us for this Christmas. And I’m praising him for these two boys that we will meet very soon.
God does give and he does take away—and his name will be praised for all of it. It is through this giving and this taking that I see him more clearly and love him more deeply. And that is how I can bless his name for this Christmas of abundance, and the Christmases of barrenness, too.