By Joel Iyorwa
On more than one occasion in the Bible the words ‘bread’ and ‘stone’ are mentioned in one breath.
During a teaching session on prayer, Jesus famously asked rhetorically: “If any of you were asked by his son for bread would you be likely to give him a stone…” (Luke 11:9).
Bread is an element of personal pleasure, satisfaction, or even indulgence and is often in close proximity to greed too. A stone is the opposite; it has no excitement or stimulation.
We generally and naturally want only what is nice and feels good, and our theology tells us those come from God. If it’s painful and uncomfortable, we don’t want it and it must come from the devil.
We want to do everything to avoid or escape the hard stuff (pain, suffering, lack, hunger, loneliness, rejection, exclusion and trials).
Often we are ready to go to any length just to get on the good side of life, where it’s all a bed of roses with the glitter of prosperity and the pamper of comfort.
And yet, one of the effective places where God fashions and builds his men and women is upon the stones of life and not the soft pillows we tenaciously cling to. Satan himself knows this truth.
Several times he prompts us to respond to these ‘stones’ in ways that rob us of their hidden or intended blessing and I am not necessarily talking about sin.
As we see in Matthew, Satan strolls up to Jesus who was just emerging from a serious exposure and experience with God; He was hungry, weak and tired.
The devil then asks Jesus to “turn these stones into bread”. Why didn’t he just tempt him with a bucket full of freshly baked nicely smelling bread?
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:1-4
I had read this passage of the Bible several times before, but never noticed the import of the request the enemy was making here.
This was not just about Jesus getting food into his stomach, it was more importantly, about Jesus turning what was a glorious experience into a monumental loss.
The path to such a loss for Jesus was going to be a moment of pleasure and comfort where God had ordained weakness and lack.
Satan is still employing the same tactics today, urging believers to turn the stones upon which God intends to make, promote and bless them into breads of momentary comfort, superficial pleasure and good feelings.
At every juncture when God brings us face to face with let’s say, a little lack of money, almost instinctively we feel a compulsion to borrow some money, or get it by any mischievous means (like sending exaggerated and cooked-up newsletters) just to get out of that moment of lack.
If we are lonely, the first response is to find company, no matter who it is and the thought of turning the loneliness into an opportunity for solitude just doesn’t resonate.
Every time stones surface in our life, we are so eager to make bread out of them and this keeps us small, ineffective and unable to impact the world around us.
This is a tendency that makes us want to quickly find an escape route out of a difficult experience that brings us discomfort.
We fail to exercise patience and lean more into God letting him accomplish the purposes for which He allows us go through such moments.
The scriptures do not tell us to actively take on pain, adversity, exclusion, lack and hardship but to keep an open heart and spirit to them when the Lord releases them into our lives.
We must resist the temptation to turn every stone we encounter on our journey through life into bread.
In resting upon some of these stones like Jacob did (Gen. 28:10) and releasing ourselves freely to God to deal with us, we will experience immense growth and posses the kind of depth in our spiritual lives that will affect the world around us.
When we’ve come to a difficult place in life, it pays to hold on, to take a step back and to ask, “What’s in this for me Lord?” And then to say, “Be it done to me according to your will.”