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You Give and Take Away

A (late) Lenten posting, that’s been on my computer awhile: some scattered thoughts on the Book of Job. (This’ll be the last substantial posting; the blog’s been dead for a while anyway. Though I plan on putting up sketches occasionally, as I like the look and feel.)

Job in the rubble

(“Blessed be the Name of the Lord”, by Beth Redman)

This song used to puzzle me. Praising God in good times and bad: understandable. But why do the Redmans sing “You give and take away” with something almost like ecstasy? You can exult in praising God, but how do you exult in God both giving and taking away? I did not even recognise the source of the song, because when Job famously says “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord” (Job 1:20-21), I imagined a tone of dull despair or controlled stoicism, rather than rapture. He doesn’t seem impassioned until he begins to rail at Heaven.

This is something that can’t be fully explained, although I came to understand by having something of a bad day myself (not approaching Job-level misfortune, however); and being unable to react in any other way I played this song and sang and finally understood. Job doesn’t stop praising God; he can’t say anything without agony in his voice so he offers pain and praise together. You give and take away. It’s the heart of the song, and sometimes it’s the only thing you can say.

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