March 2018. A quick note from 2018 Riz :)
Hey guys, I wrote this post in 2012 but it still gets the most amount of traffic of all the pages in this blog. Every now and then I get some questions and critics, and yes, I see you, and I understand where you’re coming from.
This made me think of two things: First, that many of you are searching for answers on how to deal “when God takes something away” on Google. I’m glad that your search led you to this page, but now that you’re here, I’d like to point you to the Word of God which is the most reliable source we all could have.
Second, that I needed a lot of growing up from the time I wrote this post. There are many layers surrounding this topic that I couldn’t have covered 6 years ago. I didn’t think about unborn children, or school shooting, or cancer, or injustice. I did talk about death and losing my Dad when I was 24 years old. Admittedly, I could have used better terminologies, or referenced the Scripture more.
In any case, I still believe most of what I said in this post, however seemingly shallow the illustrations I used. Now a little wiser and eyes more wide open to what’s happening in the world, I still believe with all my heart that He is the Giver of all gifts and Sovereign in all things, in all seasons, at all times—whether we understand it or not.
I thought of repurposing this content with more solid doctrine. In the end, however, I decided to keep it as it is, the way I understood this concept in 2012. :)
March 2012. A few weeks ago, we lost my husband’s Android phone in a cab and never got it back. Losing a phone is such a hassle. We had to report the stolen sim card, rebuild our contacts from scratch, and adjust our budget to buy a replacement.
But the worst part is losing all the memories that were stored in it—photos and videos from our time in New York, long-distance text messages sent from two years ago. It was also the same phone that got us through our long-distance relationship, just like the laptops that were stolen 5 months ago.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s just a gadget, Riz! Still, it strikes me and my husband how God seems to be stripping us off things we used to hold on to in the past, and giving us a clean canvass to paint new memories with. And maybe losing a phone is a mere representation of that, but I believe that mostly, God is doing some general cleaning inside of us.
Three things I learned about losing things:
(And by “things” I mean material possessions, dreams, jobs, people we love—stuff that are tangible and intangible.)
When God takes something away, He replaces it with the best
And no, it doesn’t always mean a better phone, or a better job. It doesn’t always mean more. When we lost our laptops, it took us about 2 months before we were able to buy a new one. Two laptops lost, and God replaced it with one new laptop, not three. But what we gained from that experience is more than just material gratification. In exchange for what was stolen from us, God gave us joy, and contentment, and more quality time together. ;)
When I lost my home-based job, God didn’t replace it with a higher-paying job or a job with less working hours. Instead, He gave me job security, health insurance for me and my husband, and the opportunity to work with people again. God replaces good things in our lives with the best, and in ways we don’t expect.
When God takes something away, it’s most likely not good for us
We sometimes hold on to stuff that are not doing us good, people that are holding us back, dreams that are taking us away from our true calling. Sometimes we don’t realize that we’re carrying too many excess baggage, preventing us from running light. So God takes them away even if we get hurt in the process, and when He does, He’s actually releasing us from more pain.
And mind you, God is more stubborn than we can ever be. So rather than playing tug of war with God, or rather than being angry at Him, just let go. Open your palm and release from your kung-fu tight grip what He’s clearly taking away from you. Trust that He knows what’s best.
When God takes something away, sometimes we don’t have to know why
One thing my husband and I learned over the past year is how everything is under God’s prerogative. He gives and takes away, He alters schedules and plans, He accomplishes His will whatever it takes—even if it requires parting oceans and sending His own Son to die. He sees things from a bigger perspective, and when things do not make sense to us, to Him, everything is happening according to plan.
When God took my Dad home, He didn’t replace him with someone else—there’s just no way my Dad could ever be replaced in my life. There are losses that are better left unexplained, lest we start questioning God’s goodness. The key to acceptance is believing in your heart that God knows what He’s doing and that He means well. He is sovereign above all things, and He will have His way when He pleases and for His glory. Maybe God will reveal answers in this lifetime, maybe not. It doesn’t matter.
We don’t always have to know why. What matters is, He does.
Must-Read Books about Loss, Grief and Adversities.. and Finding Joy and Purpose in the Midst of Suffering
I’ll keep updating this list!
1. And Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick
Kate Merrick examines the Bible’s gritty stories of resilient women as well as her own experience losing a child-a journey followed by more than a million on prayfordaisy.com-to reveal the reality of surprising joy and deep hope even in the midst of heartache. Is it possible live fully-even joyfully-in the middle of overwhelming pain?
In the excruciating aftermath of her young daughter’s death from cancer, Kate Merrick struggled to find a way to live. Not just to survive or go through the motions, but to live fully. Faithfully. With real joy amid inevitable tears. To discover how, Kate delved into the stories in the Bible of real women who suffered deeply and emerged somehow joyful.
2. Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering by Kristen Wetherell
Suffering is real. But so is hope. Kristen and Sarah have walked through, and are walking in, difficult times. So these thirty biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life. This book will gently encourage and greatly help any woman who is struggling with suffering whether physical, emotional or psychological, and whether for a season or for longer.
It is a book to buy for yourself, or to buy for a member of your church or friend. For anyone who is hurting, this book will give hope, not just for life beyond the suffering, but for life in the suffering. Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, with questions and prayers, and a space for journaling.
3. You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado
In You’ll Get Through This, pastor and New York Times best-selling author, Max Lucado offers sweet assurance. “Deliverance is to the Bible what jazz music is to Mardi Gras: bold, brassy, and everywhere.” Max reminds readers God doesn’t promise that getting through trials will be quick or painless. It wasn’t for Joseph–tossed in a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten and dismissed–but his Old Testament story is in the Bible for this reason: to teach us to trust God to trump evil.
With the compassion of a pastor, the heart of a storyteller, and the joy of one who has seen what God can do, Max explores the story of Joseph and the truth of Genesis 50:20. What Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good.