In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the hem of His robe filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)
Sometimes, God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) takes away good things to give us better things.
Blessed After a Bad Thing
Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was a strong and wise king in Old Testament Judah who reigned for 52 years. He died near 740 BC. In the earlier part of his kingship, under the influence of his advisor Zechariah, Uzziah was faithful to God and did right in the Lord’s eyes.1 However Uzziah’s success made him prideful and that led to his downfall. He was afflicted with leprosy when he usurped the priestly duty of offering incense in God’s temple.2 Even with his faults, Uzziah was a hero to many Jews of his time compared to so many wicked kings. He was also a hero to Isaiah. The Lord removed Uzziah and then revealed Himself to Isaiah in a new and wonderful way, purged his sins, and commissioned him for ministry.3
Often God takes away things and then blesses us, in Bible times and since. When loved ones and things are removed, most of us get depressed, disheartened, discouraged, and disappointed with God. But then the Lord often gives us new birth, spiritual refreshing and reviving, or some other good thing. Scripture says that all God does for His children is for our good. We are blessed in both His giving and His taking away because both are for the sake of our holiness and joy. Often the most valuable, satisfying, and beneficial gifts God gives us come through experiences of suffering and loss.4
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” God is the source of every good thing we have. And when we believe that, we develop humble dependence on the Lord, the best defense against pride, fear, and everything negative. We can count on God to continue providing for us, because He is the same yesterday and today and forever. He was loving and faithful to create us, care for us, and provide all we already have, so we can be sure that He will continue to treat us kindly.
New Birth and New Life are Needed
To live right, we need to be born again by the Holy Spirit and seek to:
- Hallow our Heavenly Father’s name
- Advance His kingdom
- Know, obey, and submit to His will in everything as the angels do in heaven.5
Oswald Chambers reminds us that until the Lord works new birth in us, we see only through the spectacles of our prejudices and selfish expectations. We need the surgical operation of external events and the Holy Spirit’s internal purification so that we give priority to loving and serving the Lord.6 Then, in view of God’s mercy, we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as our true and proper worship. Then we will not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind by the Spirit. Then we will be able to know and do God’s will—His good, pleasing and perfect will.7
Sometimes the Lord removes people, possessions, and positions to help us say with the Psalmist: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.8
We don’t usually come to that conviction when things are going comfortably for us. Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, only came to see God clearly through the lens of dark times for God’s faithful people.
When God allows our loved ones, things, and health to be taken away, let’s say with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”9
A True Story
Jim and Marie Stevens illustrated the “Job Response” to devastating circumstances. They were decent people who devoted themselves to making a good income, maintaining a home, and raising two sons. Then came the tragedy. Their older son, Jim Jr. stopped to check the roadside mailbox, when a truck raced over the hill, smashed into him, and killed him instantly. Jim and Marie’s life was shattered. One beloved son was dead and their home was now a place of sorrow instead of joy.
Additional troubles with work and money soon followed. One evening when Jim was leaving his pastor’s home, he paused at the door and said, with a smile of puzzled but satisfied discovery, “You know, in the last year, I’ve lost my son and my job, and I’m making twenty thousand dollars less per year, and I’ve never been happier in my life.”
Jim didn’t deny the bad stuff, but in the year since his son’s death, Jim began to trust, obey, and follow Christ. Jim learned that troubles and problems are sent from God to bring us to Christ and make us Christ-like. Hardships come uninvited and unexpected, sometimes one at a time, sometimes in a long freight train. Scripture says that troubles are inevitable for God’s people and we can’t fully escape them in this life. The question is, “How will we handle them?”10
Jim Stevens learned the truths of Colossians 2:3 and James 1:12:
In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….And blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Prayer: Lord, help us learn these same lessons and help others hang on to Christ who hangs on to us!
Notes: 1 2 Kings 15:3; 2 Chron 26:4–5. 2 2 Chron 26:16. 3 Isaiah 6:1-13. 4 helped by Jon Bloom on desiringgod.org, “What God Gives When He Takes Away.” 5 see Matthew 6:9-10. 6 My Utmost for His Highest, July 13. 7 Rom 12:1-2. 8 Psalm 73:25-26. 9 Job 1:21. 10 George Stulac, James (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series).