**This is the first post in a 4-part series on the book of Job. Here is Part Two, Three, and Four.**
The ultrasound tech looked devastated. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered to the happy couple, “there’s no heartbeat.”
It was agonizing to watch. I was curled up on the couch in front of my favorite reality T.V. show. It featured a large Christian family that I, along with millions of other viewers, had grown to love over the years. I’d cheered for each new life they’d brought into the world. And to now witness their loss was nothing short of gut-wrenching.
I held my breath as the couples’ expressions morphed from joy to bewilderment, and finally broke into pain. As she lay flat on the ultrasound table, the mother wiped her tears and whispered, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The couple joined hands and took their pain to God. They thanked him for the short time they’d been given with their developing baby. The father said, “… I pray we’ll handle this the right way, and be able to encourage the children to handle this the right way…” The mother repeated with greater resolution, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Despite my tears, I stayed glued to the screen. I followed them out of the doctor’s office and into their living room. Over an intercom they summoned their large brood together. The youngest kids were bouncing around while waiting for the announcement. The room was filled with excited cries, “Is it a boy or a girl?” and “Is it twins?”
When everyone was gathered and silent, the mother explained, “The baby died.” And again, I witnessed joyful faces fade to shock, and then break into pain. After a brief conversation the father concluded, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away… blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. I heard those words first as a young child, nestled between my parents at church. I was trying to make sense of what was happening. I think they were too. It soon became clear that the couple at the microphone had tragically miscarried.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. I’ve read those words several times on social media. Friends have posted them, sometimes weeks after we’ve rejoiced over their pregnancies. Those words signaled that it was time to join them in their mourning.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Is accepting this sentiment what it means to handle grief “the right way”? Are we supposed to offer stoic resignation, even praise, towards a God who orchestrates the death of babies? Is this what the Bible requires? Is this what God desires?
Where did this phrase come from? Why is it held up as the pinnacle of Christian grieving?
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