When God Takes Away

Life has many beautiful things to offer, but it is also filled with much pain. At times it can be difficult to reconcile these two truths. How can we truly live and enjoy life when pain looms on the horizon or hits us harder than we can handle?

Benson Boone acknowledges this dichotomy in his song Beautiful Things, which has become a staple in short-form videos on social media platforms. The song is about Boone’s life and the beautiful things that he has in it, particularly the woman that God has brought into his life. Boone sings that he thanks God, but he also notes the fear that comes with the good things he is experiencing. The chorus says: “Please stay / I want you, I need you, oh God / Don’t take / These beautiful things that I’ve got.”

It’s important to acknowledge what God gives us and to thank him for those things. The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When things are going well, it can be easy to be thankful. Boone sings that though things have been rough for a while, he’s improving. He says, “I found my mind, I’m feelin’ sane / It’s been a while, but I’m finding my faith.” His lyrics note an important point—that good things in life can bring us stability. They can allow us to personally experience God’s goodness, growing our faith in him.

But what happens when a friend betrays us; when the plans we have fall apart; when a loved one gets sick—or worse, dies? How can we ‘give thanks’ in such circumstances? Boone acknowledges that “the things He gives me / He can take away,” and speaks of the fear that keeps him up at night, terrified that he “just might lose it all.”

His fear is a very real anxiety that many people face. So what do we do when God sometimes takes away what he gives (Job 1:21)? How do we cope with the loss that life brings?1

When God Takes Away
Sadly, there is no real ‘solution’ to the pain that loss brings. It is something that we must go through. Even after the initial work has been done, grief is something that will always be a part of those who experienced the affliction. At times the grief will be hardly noticeable—like a calm lake in a landscape. But at other times, it will be a raging ocean that cannot be ignored and the pain that comes from it will feel like it’s too much to bear.2

So, what can we do in light of this inevitability? We keep living our lives and take everything as it comes. When loss happens, we shouldn’t ignore it. We shouldn’t push the pain down or away. We should let ourselves feel the reality of what has happened—to feel the pain of the loss. We have to make the time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We must give our mind and heart time to process what has transpired. After all, life was not meant to be this way. Pain may be inevitable in life, but that’s only because sin entered this world and marred the very good creation that God fashioned. So allow yourself to acknowledge that this shouldn’t have happened. This is not how things ought to be.

When we do this, we are being honest about the situation we find ourselves in. Being honest with both God and ourselves about the pain, sadness, and anger we are feeling is vital to moving through loss. If we aren’t sure what this should look like, the Psalms are an excellent example of what we should do with all our emotions: bring them to God. When we do that, God is able to work through our emotions with us. He can make the sadness do the work it needs to do. He can validate the anger and quell it in its time. Even if the one we are angry at is God, he wants us to be honest with him about that, too. God can do the most in our lives when we are honest with him about even our most difficult emotions.

If it’s possible, before great loss is experienced, we should take the time to appreciate what we have as much as we can. As Boone sings, “If everything’s good and it’s great / Why do I sit and wait ’til it’s gone?” It’s easy to let the beautiful things in life pass us by. But this only leads to guilt and regret when we miss what we once had.

What We Have Left
When we think we have nothing left after a loss, we aren’t seeing everything that is in front of us. When the friend betrays us, the plans we had fall apart, or our loved ones get sick or die, we can get stuck seeing only the loss in life. However, God has surrounded us with more beauty than we have eyes for sometimes. There is beauty to be exchanged for ashes. The prophet Isaiah says God will “provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV) Even in the midst of death, new life and beauty come. Relationships that were once bad or lost can be reforged. Emotions that have been stifled can unfurl and lift the weight of years of ignored pain.

Above all, we have God in the times of loss. In Deuteronomy 31:6, God tells his people to “be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” We can be certain that God is always, always with us. And when we walk with him, he will strengthen us and take care of us with every step.

Boone sings, “I need / These beautiful things that I’ve got,” and he’s right. We do need the beautiful things of life. We are meant to live in God’s “very good” creation. But even when we lose the beautiful things that God gives us, he will walk with us through the difficulty and give us new beauty.

To support more resources like this consider becoming a Truth Partner! Partner with Summit every month to ensure students are equipped to stand for truth.

Rebecca Sachaj

Rebecca Sachaj is enthusiastic about helping fellow believers deepen their relationship with God. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing, she pursued further study in Apologetics through The Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. She plans to obtain her Masters in Apologetics, focusing on the connection between the Christian Imagination and Apologetics. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her two dogs, Strider and Samwise.