3 Reasons God Sends the Bread of Adversity

The Bread of Life ate the bread of adversity so that we could break bread with him in eternity.

God is faithful to give us what we need, whether it’s white Italian bread, whole-wheat bread, a stone, or even a snake. Though we might not like the latter gifts, we know that the Giver is good, and that each gift will ultimately benefit us if it comes from his kind hand.

 

There’s a tiny Italian bar and restaurant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, called Valentino’s. Their generation-spanning secret spaghetti sauce recipe is comparable to Feast-of-the-Lamb fare (I exaggerate only slightly). This plate of wonders is complemented by a basket full of fresh, soft-yet-perfectly-crusted, secret-sauce-absorbing bread. Oh, how I love bread!

Bread was a staple in Bible times and is used metaphorically throughout Scripture. In Judges 7:13, God uses barley bread to picture Gideon and his 300 men destroying the camp of Midian. Jesus uses the imagery of leavened bread to typify the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt. 16:6). He also likens bread to the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 6:32) and refers to himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). And of course, bread symbolizes Christ’s broken body in communion (1 Cor. 11:24).

In Matthew 7:9, Jesus encourages his followers to pray by posing a question: “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” When I think of this verse, I picture God lovingly handing me a warm, squishy loaf of Valentino’s white Italian bread. And sometimes, that is just what he does.

But what if God chooses to give me whole-wheat bread? Or worse, gluten-free? God talks about another kind of bread in his Word: the bread of adversity. I know everything God gives me is good, but the bread of adversity doesn’t always taste good. It’s not like the white bread of temporal comfort, which appeals to me while I’m eating it. No, it’s like whole-wheat bread that doesn’t appeal to my taste buds—but over time I reap the benefits of more energy and a slimmer waistline. So it is with God’s provision of adversity. It’s hard going down, but for the Christian, it strengthens our faith and our character.

Isaiah explains:

And though the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes will see your Teacher. (Isa. 30:20-22)

This image is the hope amid our affliction: our eyes will see our Teacher. When Isaiah was given these words, Israel was, once again, in full rebellion, relying on Egypt for safety (Isa. 30:2). God appointed “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” to draw them back to himself, their rightful King. And God gives us this bread to draw us to himself, too, using it to conform us to his image. Here are three ways he gives us the bread of adversity.

  1. TO SANCTIFY US
  2. TO COMBAT PRIDE
  3. TO EQUIP US TO HELP OTHERS

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