Recently, I’ve been having some second thoughts about this post of April 8, 2008. I titled it “You Give but You Don’t Take Away.” I concluded with the statement: “I just don’t like attributing evil to God.” That is still true, but I’m reading Walter Brueggemann’s commentary on Genesis 22.1-24 (the sacrifice of Isaac) and he is developing the ides of a tension in the person of “the God of Job and Abraham who gives and takes away, who promises but also commands and tests … with these two God-fearing men (Abraham and Job) we are urged to move beyond Job’s friends as well as beyond contemporary simply civil piety which knows no dread and which goes from strength to strength.” In the command to sacrifice Isaac, God tested Abraham, the promise of many descendants appeared to be taken away before it was restored at the end of the story.

Perhaps it is simply best to not say “You give and take away” casually as an explanation for everything bad that happens, while at the same time recognizing that God is sovereign and God’s dealings with humanity are complex.