Bread and Stones
by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
I have always had trouble with the following verses in Matthew 7,
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”- Matthew 7:7-11
I first heard this verse when I was a little kid, and like most children, I tried to take full advantage of it. I prayed for toys, for snow days in winter, or that I’d get to watch an extra hour of TV that day. As you might expect, these prayers didn’t always get positive results. As I got older, my prayers became a little more mature, only they still didn’t always get answered. These weren't selfish prayers either.
I would pray that my friend’s dad would find a job, or that sick members of our congregation would be healed. So why did my prayers go unanswered? Some groups would say that if you just have enough faith God will make your life perfect, and nothing bad will ever happen to you again. Well, if you look at the lives of the apostles, you’ll see that philosophy doesn’t hold water. They were Jesus' first disciples, and they spent their lives in prison, beaten by mobs, or facing execution under the Roman Empire.
So what does this mean for us? I think it means we live in a world full of Sin, and bad things are going to happen. It means that sometimes when God answers our prayers, what is needed turns out to be much different than what we wanted. Maybe you prayed that someone would find a job, but instead God asks you to be a friend in a tough time. Maybe you asked for an opportunity to serve abroad, but instead God tells you to serve the people next door. Sometimes we pray for healing, but what God gives us is a shoulder to cry on.
Life will always be hard. At times, we will be tempted to believe that God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care. But though our ability to understand God’s purposes is limited, we can take comfort in the knowledge that his love is limitless. God never abandon us, he is there for us in our times of joy and to help us in our times of pain, if we only let him.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Are there unanswered prayers weighing on your heart? Take a moment to reflect on Christ and know that he loves you.