The God Who (Sometimes) Takes Away

Every worship leader has their flagship song, it seems. Graham Kendrick has ‘Shine Jesus Shine’, Tim Hughes has ‘Here I Am to Worship’, Chris Tomlin has ‘How Great is Our God’… and Matt Redman has ‘Blessed Be Your Name’. This song in particular has been used in so many services over the last 15 years that Jonathan Aigner’s description of it as “something of a classic to the worship industry” almost feels like an understatement at this point.

In some circles, the song has become a bit of a minefield, mainly due to the line “You give and take away” in the bridge. Many have argued that it’s not accurate to say that God actively takes things from us; He doesn’t cause suffering as such, but rather He might allow us to go through hard times as a means to grow us. Of course, no man-written worship song is going to represent God’s nature perfectly, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate a little bit and argue that there might actually be a degree of truth to Redman’s words.

There have been a few times over the last 12 months when God has seemed to take something away from me, and in the process, made it a little clearer what His purpose is for me. I realise this might not exactly have been God ‘causing’ me to suffer, but it still felt like He was testing me in a sense. For example, I remember coming away from unsuccessful interviews at Lee Abbey and Pilsdon Manor feeling completely crushed, and very uncertain about my future. But it’s almost a good thing they didn’t accept me, because it seems like Scargill is where I need to be for the moment. What they do is very important, don’t get me wrong, but had the Lord not taken those opportunities away from me, I wouldn’t have come to the place He needs me.

We sang ‘Blessed be Your Name’ at a community meeting not too long ago. I was deliberating over whether or not to sing the line in question, but in the end I chose to sing it, for the reasons described above. I believe that God does sometimes take away, but every time He does, it’s with the best intentions.

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