Nearly every night as part of evening prayer I voice these words: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” After several weeks of repetition it occurred to me what I was actually praying. In those two sentences lies one of the greatest mysteries of life: Why?
Why does the Lord give? To some much and others little (at least by our standards of giving)? Why does the Lord take away? Doesn’t the God of the universe understand how we feel about suffering, pain, and letting go?
Take a few sips of life and quickly you’ll taste its bittersweet nature. Happiness comes hand-in-hand with sorrow. Beauty with pain. Joy with devastation. We find ourselves somewhere in the paradox called life, where giving and taking happen, and both are reasons to bless. To give thanks and trust to the name of the Lord.
I’ve had several conversations recently about growing up. What does it mean? How do you know when you’re “grown-up”? And my personal favorite: Can you avoid it? This “dawn of time” seems to happen to most everyone. The responsibilities of living the dream (the American one) add up like our growing lists to-do. The goal? Happiness. Freedom. Independence. Safety.
Blessing in times of emptiness is foreign to this way of life. Why would you give thanks for what has been taken away? It takes courage to praise during heartbreak. Maturity to trust when circumstances dictate otherwise.
Maybe true “growing up” happens when we enter every day, every moment and see its beauty and its pain. When after our eyes behold the love and hate of this world, our country, our town, our home, ourselves, we turn to God and bless anyway. Trusting that whether we have or don’t, know or wander, God is faithful.