I was reminded recently of a powerful short story that I read a few years back. In preparing to write this post, I tried to find it but to no avail. The details I remember are this: a young girl and her mother were living in a poor and war-torn area, and the only Bible they had was badly ripped and damaged. They were at home one night, and the little girl came running to her mother, joyfully shouting “Mama, Mama, look at this…” She showed her Mama one of the badly torn pages, with only the first few words remaining from John 3:16, the rest having been torn out.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave…”
The little girl was joyful, her eyes beaming and smiling brightly. “Mama do you see that? God loved us so much that He gave!”
“Gave what?”, her mother asked.
The little girl replied, “It doesn’t matter what He gave, Mama. Isn’t it just great that God loved us so much that He gave something to us!”
Oh, how I wish I had the heart of that little girl, in its unjaded, uncompromised ability to receive the powerful simplicity of ultimate truth.
Recently talking with a woman going through an emotional time of loss, she was crying out to understand why God takes away things (or people) that we love so deeply. Her loss was new and fresh, and even as a strong woman of faith, she was trying to find His perspective in it all. She knew and had always claimed the promise of Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)
Her dilemma was in trying to understand how He could have dangled something in front of her that she loved so much, only to take it away from her.
I’ve been there before, too. Have you?
Just as a loving parent gives his/her child gifts, so, too, is the act of love of taking away something that will harm his child.
Remember the little girl in the story…”God gave!”
God, how do I find and share the heart of this little girl, the content and utter joy of simply knowing and believing that God gives? What is this beautiful mystery of how You give to us sometimes through taking away that which can harm us?
Friends, in the quiet, listening prayer, this is what He speaks to my heart:
“It is because I gave so much, that I can take away.”
He gives bread so that He can take away our hunger.
He gives water so that He can take away our thirst.
He gives light so that He can take away the darkness.
He gives peace so that He can take away our fears.
He gives comfort so that He can take away our pain.
He gives rest so that He can take away our weariness.
He gives love so that He can take away our loneliness.
He gave His only son so that He could take away our sin.
God gave. God gives.