Everything short of Hell is mercy!
(James Smith, "Good and Evil Alike from God" 1861)
"What? shall we receive good at the hands of God — and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10
Jehovah's Prerogative: He sends GOOD — all good. He sends EVIL — not moral evil, for God cannot be the author of sin, nor in any way give His sanction to it.
But He does send afflictions, bereavements, losses, crosses, pains and sorrows. He sends good and evil sometimes in quick succession. He sent the fish to preserve the life of Jonah, and the gourd to screen him from the sun — but He sent also the worm to destroy the gourd, and teach Jonah a beneficial lesson. Who can read the life of Jacob or Joseph, of David or Daniel, and not see that the Lord sends both good and evil upon His people. Hence the prophet asks, "Shall there be evil in a city — and the Lord has not done it?"
The Believer's Duty. We should receive all as from God's hand. The reference is not so much to the receiving — for we must receive it; but the manner of receiving — as from God. We often receive good as from God — but we do not so receive evil; yet both alike should be so received.
GOOD should be received with gratitude and praise, with humility and love — with a deep sense of our unworthiness, and God's unmerited goodness. Nor should we forget, that we are held responsible for the use of all the good things we receive from God.
EVIL should be received with patience and submission, saying with Eli, "It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good unto Him." There should be a recognition of His justice, as Aaron, when his two sons were slain — he held his peace. He was dumb, he opened not his mouth, because the Lord did it. There should also be confidence in His love, because the dispensations of His hand — never prove a change in His heart. He loves us as much when He sends evil — as when He sends good; for His love is not only everlasting — but unchangeable.
We should receive good and evil alike — as from a sovereign, wise, gracious, and holy God!
The Expostulation. "What? shall we receive good at the hands of God — and shall we not receive evil?" Are we to view good alone as coming from God? Are we not to look at evil — at our trials, troubles, and tribulations — as coming from Him?
Are we to forget His favors, lose sight of His paternal relationship, quarrel with His wisdom and love — and thus act the rebel and the ingrate? Alas! this is too often the case. One trouble swallows up the remembrance of many mercies. We think more of one loss — than we do of the gains of years; and we are more affected with one hour's pain and sickness — than we are with months of ease and health. But it would not be so — if we were properly affected with a due sense of our sinfulness, ingratitude, and unworthiness. Then in the midst of our good things, we would say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies!" And in the midst of our evil things we would say with Job, "The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"
It is folly to lose sight of God's hand in our troubles. We should rather say, "This also comes forth from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
Nor is it wise to complain of His dealings with us, for a sinner out of Hell — can never have any reason to complain. Everything short of Hell is mercy!
He assures us that all that He does, is in love. His word to us, when things are at the worst is, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." Silence befits us, though to justify God would befit us more.
We should not make too much of the instruments by which we suffer. Joseph said unto his brethren, "It was not you — but God." David said of Shimei, "Let him curse — for the Lord has bidden him." The holiest of men have always looked more at God who uses the rod — than at the rod which He used. If He appoints it — it is wise. If He permits it — it is for our good. He does nothing, He permits nothing to be done, which affects His children — but they would do themselves — if they were as wise, as judicious, and as far-seeing as He is. Nor is there a doubt — but in eternity we shall bless and praise His holy name — for the very things that grieve and distress us now. Believer, receive everything, whether painful or pleasant — as from God's hand! And bless a taking God — as well as a giving God.
Lord, pardon our folly and forgive our sins, for we have been guilty of both in our conduct toward you; and help us in future if tempted to repine, or if rebellious feelings arise in our hearts to say, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God — and shall we not receive evil also?"