Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

"Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)

In 2012, a family in our church almost lost their son to an IED (improvised explosive device) detonation in Afghanistan. Their son, a Marine, was on his first tour when, on a routine patrol, he triggered the explosion and was nearly killed. He lost both of his legs above the knee and most of the use of one of his hands. Now, several years later, after dozens of surgeries, he is living a reasonably normal life with his wife and two children. But, the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual wounds are still very much there.

In a small group meeting, I remember his parents commenting on his, and their own, continued difficulty in understanding and dealing with what happened and why God allowed it. The father commented, "We asked God for bread and He gave us a stone. We prayed fervently for God to protect our son, and yet God allowed him to be horribly wounded. God gave us the exact opposite of what we asked for."

I thought a lot about what he said. I can definitely empathize with the feeling that God gave you the opposite of what you asked for. My father died a slow, painful, and agonizing death from stomach cancer shortly after I came to faith in Christ despite my fervent pleas for God to heal him.

While I have come to trust God and accept what He allowed to happen, in no sense am I minimizing the ongoing pain, heartache, and doubt a painful event like this can cause. In no sense am I being critical of those who are still struggling with trusting God after an unanswered prayer request of this magnitude. Recovering from, and growing through, a tragedy like this is a process, often a marathon. But, what does the finish line look like (2 Timothy 4:7)?

How should Christians respond when we ask God for bread and He appears to give us a stone?

While Romans 8:28 is much overused, it is still absolutely true. God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. It may look like a stone. It may feel like a stone. It may taste like a stone — but it is not a stone. God's Word never fails. God never reneges on His promises. Since God promises that if you ask for bread, He won't give you a stone, it is not a stone. It may not be what you asked for. It may not be what you wanted. But, ultimately, it is what is best. You will, at some point, be grateful for how God responded to your prayers.

Often, there is no way anyone can know why God allowed something terrible to happen. We can trust that it was God's will, but understanding how it is God's perfect plan is a different matter (Romans 12:1-2). There is no pain or suffering in heaven (Revelation 21:4). In heaven, we will all be in perfect agreement with what God's plan was for our earthly lives. However, it should be our goal to reach that level of trust in our pre-heaven walk with God. Easy? No. Possible? Likely no. Still our goal? Absolutely!

Just as Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread (Matthew 4:3), so does he tempt us to view the "bread" God gives us as stones. No matter how much it seems to be a stone, we must trust God's Word that it is, in fact, His good, pleasing, and perfect plan.

S. Michael Houdmann

Return to:

GotQuestions.blog homepage

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?