“Newsboys,” a contemporary Christian rock group I’m normally quite fond of, has a dynamic song titled Blessed be Your Name that repeats over and over: “You give and take away, you give and take away, but my heart will choose to say blessed be Your name.” I’m troubled by this refrain. I’ve been troubled by it ever since I first heard the song, and my hope is that by putting pen to paper (or keyboard to blog) I can get it out of my system.
I think the scriptural basis for the refrain “You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say blessed be Your name.” comes from Job 1.21 in which Job, after losing everything, says “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (NRSV). This seems to be a good scriptural warrant and the same is implied/proclaimed elsewhere in the First (Old) Testament. The problem is that I think Job is wrong. The book of Job clearly has God allowing these things to happen to Job, but it is just as clear that Satan is the one doing them. To allow Satan to take away is not the same as God taking away. The reader has information that Job does not have and can therefore know that Job is wrong, God did not take away.
More importantly in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ, God’s fullest self-revelation to humanity, states that “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices” and those killed by the falling tower of Siloam did not die at the hand of God. Likewise, in the Gospel of John, the man born blind was not born blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. Jesus makes it clear that God is not in that business of punishing, much less the business of “taking away.” There is a lot of evil in this world, but God is never the author of evil. We must remember that the world is not as God created it to be.
If you have any thoughts you’re willing to share, drop me a line at email@example.com.
Update: I do like the song, both because it’s catchy and because I like the idea of blessing God come what may. I just don’t like attributing evil to God.