The Lord gives you the bread of adversity. (Isaiah 30:20)
Today I would like to briefly unpack the holy and hopeful truth set forth by the prophet Isaiah regarding the believer’s bread. I don’t know about you, but I love bread. One of my cherished childhood memories is the tantalizing smell of baking bread in our kitchen as Mom prepared one of the main staples of our dining room table. Bread held a special place in the Boland home, and it holds a special place in Scripture too.
In the Old Testament, God used a loaf of barley bread as an image of Gideon and his men routing the Midianites in battle. In the New Testament, Jesus likens bread to the giving of the Holy Spirit (John 6:32). Probably the most powerful bread metaphor in the Bible is Jesus’ reference to Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Our Lord also used the imagery of bread in a negative way: he used the idea of leavened bread to highlight the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6).
As I say, I love bread . . . but I’m not so crazy about adversity! So why would God give His people “the bread of adversity”? There are several reasons. In the time of Isaiah, the people of God had engaged in wicked, willful rebellion against God by relying on Egypt and Pharaoh for their sustenance and safety (Isaiah 20:2). Because our God is a jealous God and will tolerate no rival, He gave “the bread of affliction” (Deuteronomy 16:3) to draw His people back to Him and cause them to depend on nothing smaller than God.
Our great and gracious God gives us the Bread of Life; He gives us the bread of adversity as well. The writer of of the epistle to the Hebrews put it this way —
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (Hebrews 12:7-8)
Think about it this way: If a father refuses to discipline his children, does he truly love them and want the best for them? Of course not! When we see the wheels coming off the track in the lives of our children, we step in with the appropriate discipline to provide the necessary course correction. How much more will our Father in heaven do for us?
A few verses later in the Hebrews passage, we read, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful” (Hebrews 12:11). No one likes to be disciplined. But God’s discipline is not a sign of His displeasure, but rather an indication of His deep and abiding love for us.
Remember, God’s ultimate goal in the lives of His children is Christlikeness (Romans 8:29). In order for God to conform us into the image and likeness of His beloved Son, the Bread of Life, we will often need to partake of the believer’s bread of adversity. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for you, and because of that amazing love, He will not always give you what you want. But He will always give you what you need . . . and often we need to taste the believer’s bread.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!