Good day to you, fellow Central Oakie, and friends “listening” in.
Before I share my thought for this week, let me thank you all for praying for me. More and more I’m seeing how much I need your prayers. These past few weeks, spiritual opposition has been stronger than I normally notice. Whenever I’ve reached out to some of you for prayer, it has always helped. So thank you again.
Sunday I was preaching about how God sometimes takes things away from us as His children. I hope that doesn’t shatter your worldview. Most of us have lived long enough and seen it enough in Scripture to know it’s true.
I mention that truth to set up what I really want to write about today. That is, I’ve heard growing up that God won’t take something away from you unless He’s going to replace it with something better. That phrase has never set well with me, but it’s only recently that I’ve been able to understand why.
A Well-Meaning, But Slightly Off Phrase
The phrase and those who use it have good intentions, I’m sure. They know that God’s heart for people is good. There’s some Jeremiah 29:11 ideology underneath those words. But I don’t think the phrase is exactly right. Here’s why.
The phrase assumes that the problem we have in finding joy in things is that we don’t seek good enough things. (Imagine me using an infomercial voice for this next part.) “Has God allowed (or caused) your iPhone 6 to break? It’s because He wants to give you an iPhone 10!”
What I see in God’s Word is that the problem with seeking joy in things is that we’re seeking joy in the creation instead of in the Creator (see Romans 1:24-25).
The things God gives to us as His children are good, and are to be enjoyed, as 1 Timothy 6:17 tells us. But that same verse tells us not to set our hope on “the uncertainty of riches, but on God.”
What a Good Father Most Enjoys
Perhaps an illustration about spending time with a good father would be helpful. My father-in-law, Mark Stripling, is a good father and a good grandfather. For his birthday this year, all he wants is for his family to be together. Those of you with children and grandchildren resonate with his desire. What he wants most is not what his children can give him. He’s experienced all the things, and he knows that communion with his family is better.
God not only feels the same way about us as His children, but He wants us to feel the same way about Him. His Word says, “In his presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). The most joy we can experience is not through the things our Father gives, but by being with Him.
What He’s Doing
So, what is God doing when He takes things away from us? Is He preparing to give us something better? He might, although I don’t think that’s His goal. I think He sent His Son to earth to live, die, resurrect, and rise. I think He sends the Spirit to call His children to Himself through the gospel, and then intentionally gives and takes things away from us as His children not so He can replace what He’s removed with something better, but so to help us see that He is better.
Oh church family! May we have hearts that see God as our greatest joy, and the things He gives and takes away as the means to get more of Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord!