Fifteen Years After!

“ The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 1:21

OR, as some read it, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” So that the text is not only concerning the past, but it may rightly be considered as relating also to the present. Some of the rarest pearls have been found in the deepest waters and some of the choicest utterances of Believers have come from them when God’s waves and billows have been made to roll over them. The fire consumes nothing but the dross and leaves the gold all the purer. In Job’s case, I may truly say with regard to his position before God, he had lost nothing by all his losses, for what could be purer and brighter gold than this which gleams before us from our text, revealing his triumphant patience, his complete resignation and his cheerful acquiescence in the Divine will? “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There are two points to which I ask your earnest attention while we meditate upon this subject. The first is the exhortation drawn from the text–learn to see the Lordin giving and in taking. And,secondly–and this is a harder lesson–learn to bless the Lordin giving and in taking.


Our whole history seems to be divided, as our text divides itself, into a beholding of God’s hand in giving and then a beholding of it in taking.

We are then, first of all, to behold God’s hand as a giving hand. If we are Believers, all the comforts and mercies that we have are to be viewed by us as coming from the hands of our gracious Heavenly Father. Job confessed that the Lord had given him the camels, the sheep, the oxen and that the Lord had given him his seven sons and three daughters. Everything which he had ever possessed he looked upon as having been the gift of God. Job did not say, “I worked hard to obtain all that stock that I have now lost.” He did not complain, “I spent many weary days and many anxious nights in accumulating all those flocks and herds that have been stolen from me.” He did not ascribe any of his wealth either to his own wit, or to his own industry, but he said of it all–“The Lord gave it to me.” In his mind’s eye, he took an inventory of all that he once had and of all that he had lost–and he said of the whole, “It was all the Lord’s gift to me.”

Now, Beloved, whatever may be the possessions which you have at the present time. Whatever may be the number of those who are the comfort of your life–husband or wife, parents or children, kinsfolk of any sort–say of all of them, “The Lord gave them to me.” And, as a Christian, learn the wisdom of never ascribing any earthly comfort to any earthlysource. The worldling may not always be able to say what Job said concerning his possessions. Some of what he has may not have been obtained honestly–the Lord did not give any of that to him. Some of what he has may turn out to be a curse rather than a blessing, but the Believer in Christ may say with the utmost truthfulness, with regard to all that he has, “It is all the gift of my loving and tender Heavenly Father.”

And, Brothers and Sisters, there is associated with this fact that all our possessions are God’s gifts, the remembrance that they are all undeserved gifts. They are gifts in the fullest sense of the word–the gifts of God’s Grace. They are notgiven to us because we have merited them, for we have never deserved even the least of all the mercies which the Lord has so bountifully bestowed upon us. We may say of the whole river of His favor which continually flows side by side with us as we journey along the pathway of our pilgrimage, that there is not a drop of it which comes to us of debt or by law, but all comes through the free gift of God’s Grace! All that we have, over and above what would have been our portion in the pit of Hell, is the gift of God’s mercy towards us. It is of the Lord’s mercy and because His compassions fail not, that we are not consumed. Every Believer can truly say with Job, “‘The Lord gave,’ yes, the Lord gave even to me, an unworthy one who sat as a beggar at His gate and received from His own hand countless tokens of His Infinite loving kindness.”

And I may add, with regard to those gifts, that they have been given to us with wondrous kindness andthoughtfulness on GodSome here, I think, will have to say that they have found themselves provided for by God’s forestalling their needs. He has gone before them in the way of His Providence and mysteriously cleared a path for them. Before they have felt the pinch of poverty, the pinch has been averted. There are others of God’s servants here who have sometimes been brought very low, yet they can bear witness that up to now their bread has always been given to them and their waters have been sure. And while God’s mercy comes to us very sweetly when forestalling our needs, there is equal sweetness if it comes when the need has been felt. No food is so palatable as that which has hunger for its sauce! To know what it is to be poor will make us more grateful if God ever gives us abundance. But time would fail me to tell you the love and care of God towards each one of us, every day of our lives , and to recount how He not only continues but evenmultiplies His favors. It is impossible for us to count them, for they are more in number than the hairs of our head, or the sand on the seashore, or the stars in the midnight sky! [See Sermon No. 3022, Volume 53–GOD’S INNUMERABLE MERCIES–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at]

Now, as everything we have is freely and graciously given to us by God, this should make us feel, in the first place, that this Truth sweetens all that we have. I daresay there is many a little thing in your house that is of no great value initself, but it was given to you by someone who was very dear to you. How much a child values that Bible that was given to her by her mother who wrote her name in it! Many a man has, in his house, things which an auctioneer would appraise at a very small amount, but which the owner prizes very highly because they were given to him by someone whom he intimately esteemed and who gave them to him as a token of his love. In like manner, look at the bread on the table of a Believer as a love token from God. The Lord gave it to him–and if there were upon his table nothing but that bread, it would be a token of God’s gracious condescension in providing for his needs! Let us learn to look thus at everything that we receive in this life, for such a view of it will sweeten it all. We shall not then begin to calculate whether we have as much as others have, or as much as our own whims or wishes might crave, but we shall recognize that all we have comes from the hand and heart of our Heavenly Father–and that it all comes to us as a token of our Father’s love and with our Father’s blessing resting upon it!

This fact should also prevent any Believer from acting dishonestly in his daily avocations, or even from wishing toobtain anything that is not his own by right. All of you who belong to God have what God has given you–so mind that you do not mix with it anything that the devil has given you! Do not go into any worldly enterprise and seek to gain something concerning which you could not say, “The Lord my God gave it to me.” Men of the world will engage in such transactions and they will say that you are not as sharp as you might be because you will not do the same. But you have a good reason for refusing to gain even a shilling upon which you cannot ask God’s blessing. A sovereign, dishonestly procured, though it might gladden your eyes for a little while and help to fill your purse, would certainly bring a curse with it–and you do not want that. You would not like to have to confess to yourself, concerning anything you possessed, “I dare not tell my Heavenly Father how I got it, though He knows. And I dare not ask His blessing upon it, nor do I think He would ever give it to me. He will probably turn it into a rod and sharply scourge me for having dared to use such unholy means to get what I ought not to have even wished to possess.” Some of God’s people might have been very happy if they had not been greedy and grasping. He that hurries to be rich will soon find that he will fall into many snares and abundant temptations. It is an evil thing when people cannot be content although they have enough for all their necessities, for even the world’s proverb says that, “enough is as good as a feast.” Yet many stretch out their arms, like wide-encircling seas, and try to grasp in them all the shore! Such people, sooner or later, begin to rob others right and left, and very many of them come down to poverty and the Bankruptcy Court, disgraced and dishonored. Let it not be so with you, Beloved, but be content with such things as you have, whether God gives you little or much and, above all things, pray that you may have nothing but what He gives you, nothing in your house or shop but what comes in at the front door in the light of day, nothing but what may be seen coming in if any eyes should be watching. That man is truly happy who can say of all his substances, be it little or be it much, “The Lord gave it to me.”

Further, as it is the Lord who gives us all the wealth that we possess, how very foolish are those people who areproud of possessing a little more of this worldThere are some who seem to be thoroughly intoxicated by the possession of a larger income than their neighbors enjoy. They even seem to fancy that they were made of better material than was used in the creation of ordinary mortals. Did not a broad grin appear on the faces of many aristocrats when someone said, in Parliament, that we were all made of the same flesh and blood? Of course all those who were in their right senses knew that it was true–but insanity in high places seemed to be moved to utter contempt at the bare mention of such a thing! When a man is poor, unless he has brought his poverty upon himself by extravagance, or idleness, or his own wrongdoing, the man is a man for all that, and none the worse man for being poor! Indeed, some of the best of men have been as poor as their Lord was. I have known many who have been very poor, yes, who have been the excellent of the earth, in whom a true saint of God might well take delight! There always will be various ranks and conditions among man and there is a certain respect which is due from one to another which should never be withheld where it is rightly due, but, at the same time, whenever a man begins to say that because God has given him more than He has given to another, therefore he will despise his poorer brother and look down upon him, it must be dishonoring and displeasing to God and it is extremely likely that He will turn round and make the proud man bite the dust! How often those who have held their heads so very high have been rolled in the mud–and how easily that might be made to come to pass with others!

A further inference arising out of this Truth that God gives us all that we have, is that it ought never to be difficultfor us to give back to God as much as we can. As He has given us all that we have, it is but right that we should use it to His Glory and if, under the rule of His Grace, and under the Gospel, He does not so much claim a return from us as a matter of right, but leaves our liberality to be awakened by the love which constrains us, rather than by the Law which compels us, yet let us not give God less because He gives us more! Under the Mosaic dispensation, the Jew gave his tenth by compulsion, but let us willingly give to God more than that and not need to be forced to do it except by the sweet constraint of love. Do I owe every penny that I have in this world to the bounty of God’s hand? Then, when God’s cause and God’s poor are in need, let no one have to beg of me to give to them! I always feel ashamed when I hear people say that we are “begging for God’s cause.” God’s cause has no need to be a beggar from those who would be beggars if it were not for God’s Grace! Oh, no, no! It must never be so! We ought to be like the children of Israel in the wilderness who gave so generously towards the building and furnishing of the Tabernacle that Moses had to restrain their liberality, for they had already given “much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded to make.” Let us try to imitate the liberality which God has manifested toward us in the gift of His well-beloved Son and in all the Covenant blessings which come to us through Him. All those who have received so much from God should count it their privilege and delight to give back to Him all that they can!

These reflections might suffice for this part of the subject, but I shall add one more. “ The Lord gave–then wemust worship the Giver and not His gifts. How can we so degrade ourselves as to worship that which God has given to us? Yet you know that many make idols of their gold, their lands, their husbands, their wives, their children, or their friends! It is no unusual thing for a little child to be the god of the family–and wherever that is the case, there is a rod laid up in store in that house. You cannot make idols of your children without finding out, sooner or later, that God makes them into rods with which He will punish you for your idolatry! "Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” was the injunction of the loving Apostle John. And he wrote thus in love because he knew that if God sees us making idols of anything, He will either break our idols or break us. If we really are His people, He will, in some way or other, wean us from our idols, for He wants our love to be given wholly to Himself. So it is best for us to keep the creature in its right place and never to let the joys or comforts of this life usurp God’s rightful position in our hearts! God has been pleased so to fashion the world that it should always be under our feet and, as Christians, we should always keep it there. The dearest thing we have on earth should always be estimated by us at its proper value as a gift from God but as nothing more than that–and never be allowed to occupy our heart’s throne which should always be reserved for the Lord alone.

But now we are to think, for a while, of the Lord’s hand taking away from us as well as giving to us. Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.” Some of you have come to this service very sad and heavy of heart because thatdear child of yours is dead. Well, I do not blame you for sorrowing over your loss, but I pray you also to remember that it is the Lord who has taken your child away from you. You say that it was the fever that took away your dear one–and perhaps that was the immediate cause of your child’s death–but if you can realize that the fever was only the instrument in God’s hands to remove the dear little one from your care to His own, surely you will dry your tears. And as for that substance of yours, which has almost melted away under the fiery trial to which it has been subjected, so that poverty seems, now, to stare you in the face, you will be able to bear even that when you remember that it is the Lord’s hand thathas taken away what His hand had first given!

As long as we look at the secondary causes of our trouble, we see reasons for sorrow. But when our faith can piercethe veil and see the Great First Cause, then our comfort begins! If you strike a dog with a stick, he will try to bite the stick because he is a dog. But if he knew better, he would try to bite you–not the stick! Yet that is the way that we oftenact with the troubles that come to us–we fly at the second causes and so are angry and petulant with them! But if we would always remember that it is God who takes away, as well as God who gives–that He is at the back of all our trials and troubles–that His hand weighs out our shame of grief and measures our portion of pain–then we would not dare to rebel and bewail, but, like David, we would say, “I was dumb. I opened not my mouth because You did it.” Even if we could not get up higher, and say with Job, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Further, when once we know that God has done anything, that fact forbids any question concerning it. It must beright because He did it. I may not be able to tell why, but God knows why He did it. He may not tell me the reason, but He has a reason, for the Lord never acted unreasonably. There never was any action of His, however sovereign or autocratic it might appear to be, but was done “after the counsel of His own will.” Infinite Wisdom dictates what absolute Sovereignty decrees. God is never arbitrary, or tyrannical. He does as He wills, but He always wills to do that which is not only most for His own glory, but also most for our real good. How dare we question anything that God does!

My dear Sister, rest assured that it is better that you should be a widow and seek to glorify God in your widowhood. My dear young Friend, believe that it is better that you should be an orphan–otherwise God would not have taken away your parents. It is better that you, dear Friends, should lose your eyes. It is better that you should be poor, or diseased, or else the Lord would not let you be so, for, “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” If health and wealth were good things for you, God would let you have them. If it were a good thing for saints to never die, they would never die. If it were a good thing for them to go to Heaven at once, they would go there at once. If you are walking uprightly, you may know that you have all things, which, all things considered, would be good for you. Some things which might be good in themselves, or good for others, might not be good for you and, therefore, the Lord, in love, withholds them from you. But, whatever He gives, or takes away, or withholds, raise no questions concerning it, but let it be sufficient for you that the Lord has done it!

Besides, when we know that the Lord takes away our possessions, the knowledge that they are His effectuallyprevents us from complaining. Suppose you are a steward to a certain nobleman and that his lordship has been pleased to entrust you with ten thousand pounds of his money? By-and-by he withdraws it from your charge and invests it somewhere else. Well, it never was your money–you might have complained if it had been. But you are only a steward and if your lord pleases to withdraw his own money, are you going to be out of temper with your master because he does what he wills with his own? Suppose you have a banker–and we are, as it were, the Lord’s bankers–and suppose that a week or two ago you paid into the bank a thousand pounds, or more, and the clerks or those in authority were pleased to take charge of your money. But suppose that you went to the bank, today, and drew it all out? They did not get angry with you, did they? You would not like to trust a banker who was only civil to you when you were paying in money! And if we are God’s bankers, He sometimes puts His treasure into our keeping and sometimes takes it out–but it is not our treasure any more than our money is the banker’s when we entrust it to his care! It is on deposit with us and we ought to be paying God good interest upon it! Whatever God has given to us, He never gave it as our own freehold. It was always on a lease–a lease, too, that had to be renewed every moment, for if God chose to cancel it, He could do so whenever He pleased. How dare we, then, complain?

To use another figure, our position is like that of a nurse into whose care a mother placed her baby and the nursedandled the child, and was glad to have charge of it. But when she had to return it to its mother, she cried over the loss of the little darling! Yet it was not the nurse’s child, given to her to keep–it was only hers to nurse. So it was with your children whom God has taken Home to Himself–they were not yours to keep. The Lord put each one of them, for a while, into your charge and said to you, “Christian mother, take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will pay you your wages.” So, when He called the child back to Himself, why should you complain as though He had wronged you? Or, to use another illustration, which has been frequently employed in this connection–a gardener had been especially careful in tending one particular rose which was very fair to look upon. But, when he went, one morning, to his favorite rosebush, he found that the flower of which he had taken such care, was gone! He was very vexed, for he thought that some bad boy had stolen into the garden and taken away his best flower. He was complaining very bitterly of his loss when someone said, “The master has been down in the garden this morning, and he has been admiring this rosebush, and he has taken away that fine bud of which you were so proud.” Then the gardener was delighted that he had been able to grow a flower that had attracted his master’s notice and, instead of mourning any longer, he began to rejoice! So should it be with anything upon which we have set our hearts! Let each one of us say to our Master, “My Lord, if it pleases You to take it, it pleases me to lose it! Why should I complain because You have taken from me what is really Your own?–


If You should call me to resign

What most I prize–it never was mine!
I only yield You what was Yours–
Your will be done!‘"

II. The second part of my discourse must be briefer than the first part, yet it is equally important. It is this, LEARN TO BLESS THE LORD’S NAME IN EVERYTHING. Learn to ring the bells of His praise all day long and, for that matter, all night long, too!

First, bless the name of the Lord when He reveals His hand in giving. “Ah,” you say, “that is an easy thing to do."So it ought to be, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and it is a neglect of our duty when we do not do it. We come down to our breakfast in the morning rejoicing in health and strength, and we go out to our day’s engagements but, I hope not without thankfulness that we are in health and that we have food to eat, and raiment to put on! We are out all day and things prosper with us, but I trust that we do not accept all this as a matter of course–but that we praise the Lord for it all day long–and then when we go home again at night, and God is still with us, I hope we do not fall asleep before we again praise Him. John Bunyan used to say that the very chickens shame us if we are ungrateful, for they do not take a drink of water without lifting up their heads, as if in thankfulness, for the refreshing draught. If we, who are the Lord’s children, do not bless Him for the mercies which so constantly come to us from Him, we are, of all people, the most ungrateful! Oh, for a grateful frame of mind, for I am sure that is a happy frame of mind. Those who are determined to murmur and to complain of God’s dealings with them, are sure to find plenty of things to complain of–while those who are of a thankful spirit will see reasons and occasions for gratitude in everything that happens!

Do you remember a touching story, told some years ago, of a poor mother with her two little fatherless children? On a cold winter’s night they discovered an empty house into which they went for shelter. There was an old door standing by itself, and the mother took it, placed it across a corner of the room, and told the children to creep behind it so as to get a little protection from the cold wind. One of the children said, “Oh Mother, what will those poor children do that haven’t got any door to set up to keep out the wind?” That child was grateful even for such a poor shelter as that! Yet there are some who have thousands of greater blessings than that, and yet do not see God’s hand in them–and do not praise Him for them. If that has been the case with any of us, let us turn over a new leaf and ask God to rule it with music lines and then let us put on them notes of thanksgiving, and say to the Lord, with David, “Every day will I bless You; and I will praise Your name forever and ever.” Or say with one of our old poets–


My God, Ill praise You while I live,

And praise You when I die,
And praise You when I rise again,
And to eternity."

Praising God is one of the best ways of keeping away murmuring! Praising God is like paying a peppercorn rent forour occupation of our earthly tenement. [See Sermon No. 3021, Volume 53–LANDLORD AND TENANT–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at] When the rent is not paid, the owners generally turn the tenantsout–and God might well do so with us if He were like earthly landlords. If we are not grateful to Him for all the bounties which we constantly receive from Him, He may make the stream stop–and then what would we do? Ungrateful mind, beware of this great danger! Thankfulness is one of the easiest virtues for anyone to practice and certainly it is one of the cheapest! So let all Christians especially comply with the Apostolic injunction, “Be you thankful.” It is a soulenriching thing to be thankful. I am sure that a Christian, with gratitude for a small income, is really richer than the man who lives a graceless life and is plentifully endowed with worldly wealth. David spoke truly when he said, “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.” So, let others do as they will, we say, “Give us, Lord, whatever You will, whether it is little or much, so long as You give with it the light of Your Countenance, our souls shall be abundantly content!”

Thus are we to bless the name of the Lord for all that He gives us.

But, it is a much more difficult thing to bless the name of the Lord for what He takes away from us. Yet, difficult asit is, I venture to say that many Believers who have forgotten to praise God while He was giving to them, have not forgotten to praise Him when He was taking away from them! I do not know how thankful Job had been before this trying period in his history, but I do know that his trials brought out this expression of his thankfulness. It is his first recorded praise to God. Some of us need to lie a little while upon a sickbed in order to make us thankful for having had good health for so long. And we need to be brought low and to have our spirits depressed in order to make us grateful that we have had such cheerful spirits and been blessed with so many comforts. It is not natural or easy for flesh and blood to praise God for what He takes away, yet this painful experience often wakes up the gratitude of the Christian and he who forgot to praise the Lord, before, makes up for it now!

Brothers and Sisters, praise is God’s due when He takes as well as when He gives, for there is as much love in His taking as in His giving! The kindness of God is quite as great when He smites us with His rod as when He kisses us with the kisses of His mouth. If we could see everything as He sees it, we would often perceive that the kindest possible thing He can do to us is that which appears to us to be unkind. A child came home from the common with her lap full of brightly shining berries. She seemed very pleased with what she had found, but her father looked frightened when he saw what she had and anxiously asked her, “Have you eaten any of those berries?” “No, Father,” replied the child, to his great relief. And then he said to her, “Come with me into the garden.” And there he dug a hole, put the berries in, stamped on them and crushed them, and then covered them with earth. All this while, the little one thought, “How unkind Father is to take away these things which pleased me so much!” But she understood the reason for it when he told her that the berries were so poisonous that if she had eaten even one of them, she would in all probability have died in consequence! In like manner, sometimes, our comforts turn to poison–especially when we begin to make idols of them–and it is kind on the part of God to stamp on them and put them right away from us so that no mischief may come to our souls. Surely that child said, “Thank you, Father, for what you have done. It was love that made you do it.” And you, also, Believer, can say

, “Thank God for my sickness, for my poverty, for that dead child of mine, for my

widowhood, for my orphanhood–thank God for it all! It would have been ruinous to me to have left me unchastened. Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept His Word. Blessed be His name for all that He has done, both in giving and in taking away."

It is a grand thing when we do not judge God’s dealings with us simply by the rules of reason. From the first moment when the love of God is revealed to us, right on to the hour when we shall be in the Presence of the Father in Glory, we may depend upon it that there is Infinite Love in every act of God in taking from us, just as much as in giving to us! Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” The Father always loved Jesus with Infinite Love–He loved Him as much when He was on the Cross as He did when He was on His Throne. And , in likemanner, Jesus always loves us with an unchanging love–a love which can never fail us. He loves us as much in the furnace of affliction as He will love us when we shall be with Him in Glory, so let us bless His name whether He gives or takes away! I invite every mourning soul here to bless God’s name at this moment.

“Ah,” says one, “I wish I could get a little more happiness to sustain me under my many trials.” Well, let me just remind you of the poor widow woman who went out to gather a few sticks to make a fire, that she might bake some cakes for herself and her son. When the Prophet Elijah met her, what did he say to her? He told her to make him a little cake,first, and afterwards he added, “make for you and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.” Notice that he said to the woman, “Make me a little cake first.” And God seems to say to you, “Praise Me first, and then I will bless you.” Say, as Job did a little later in his history, “Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him.” I believe it marks the turn of the tide, with a saint, when he or she can say to the Lord, with good old John Ryland–


You, at all times, will I bless!

Having You, I all possess!"

The sky soon begins to clear when the Christian begins to say, “The Lord’s will be done.” “Not as I will, but as You will.” This is a sign that the chastisement has had its due effect–the rod will now probably be put away. You mourning souls, take down your harps from the willows and sound forth at least a note or two to the praise of the Lord your God! Praise Him with such notes as these–“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart…I will not fret myself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass…O my God, I believe that all things are working together for my good and that You are my gracious Heavenly Father, full of compassion and overflowing with love.” If you talk like this, Christian, and mean what you say, it will be a blessing to you, a comfort to others and an honor to your God!

As I speak thus, I am reminded that these comforting Truths of God belong only to true Believers. And as I send you away, I dare not put the words of my text into all your mouths, for, alas, some of you cannot see our Father’s hand in anything that happens to you! You are without a parent, except that wicked one of whom Christ said to the Jews, “You are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do.” Yet, remember, you who cannot claim God as your Father, that the door of His Grace is not yet shut. He is still willing to receive you! If you will come to Him, confessing your sins and seeking mercy through the precious blood of Jesus, He is both able and willing to give you a new heart and a right spirit–to save you here and now–and to adopt you at once into His family! Then will you also be able to see His hand both in giving and in taking away–and you will also learn to bless His name at all times!

If God the Lord shall deal thus graciously with you, His shall be the praise forever and ever. Amen. –Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307