Hard times are now a reminder to me that God loves me. Through these difficulties, he is giving me opportunities to develop and express my faith.
Life is hard. But I have learned that life is hard because God loves me.
On my mission in Malaysia, my companion and I worked as hard as we could. We went running in the mornings to be stronger bikers so we could get to people faster. We didn’t take our lunch hour so we could spend more time with our investigators. We didn’t take our dinner hour so we could instead eat with and spend more time with investigators. We were often dirty and sweaty, and we had holes in our skirts and shoes from all the biking.
My companion and I both put on a few pounds from eating piles of rice. We were emotionally drained from crying and praying on behalf of the people. We learned their dialects. We cleaned their houses. We woke up an hour early on Sunday to bike with investigators to church. Attendance rose from 20 people to over 70 people in three short months.
Then the progress we made began to unravel. Both of the families we were working with decided not to be baptized. My companion developed a boil on her right shin. I got lice. We both had infections due to the moisture. Because of the tremendous pain in my companion’s knees, we could not go teach our investigators who lived farther away. Oh, how our hearts ached to reach those people we loved!
My next companion was a native who gave me hope for the future of the work. But five days later, due to circumstances outside of my control, my companion went home.
Alone. I sat in my apartment. I would be flying to a new area the next day. But my tears couldn’t wait anymore. I’ll never forget the anguish I felt in that moment, crying my heart out to God. Please, please take care of these people. I love them with my whole self. Why do I have to leave them? I would do anything for them.
My world seemed to be falling apart. Then, while reflecting on a talk by Brother S. Michael Wilcox titled “Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray To”, I began to find some understanding and comfort. In his talk, Brother Wilcox expounds on Matthew 7:9–11, which teaches us that God gives us good gifts. He gives us bread, not stones. The Savior asked, “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
As I came to understand that God gives me bread, not stones, I realized that the “bread” he was giving me often took the form of new challenges that would help me face the unknown. In my next two areas on my mission, I had to rely a lot more on God. Because of the faith I was required to exercise, miracles happened. I witnessed eight baptisms during the last three months of my mission, and I got to open a new area for sister missionaries. What a miracle!
Those last three months taught me that God does indeed give bread, not stones. The hardest thing I did in my whole mission was to leave those people in Malaysia. But because it was hard, I spent a lot more time on my knees, praying to God for help and strength. Though having to leave each area that I loved felt like a heavy stone, it was actually bread. Over time, I learned to deeply love my next areas as well. At the time, I didn’t understand God’s reasoning, but he was giving me opportunities to express more faith.
As Wilcox states, “God did not give me a stone. A stone, when you want bread, is something useless. God does not give useless things. He did not give me a serpent; a serpent, when you want a fish, is something harmful. He does not give harmful things; He only gives bread, and fish.”
Now when I experience a hard trial—ending a relationship, deciding what to major in, losing close friends and family to death, struggling with anxiety—I remember that life is hard because God loves me. He is giving me opportunities to develop and express faith. He is giving me bread, not stones.
Read “Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray To”
Source: BYU–Hawaii Devotionals and Speeches
—Tacy LeBaron, Mormon Insights
Find more insights
Read “Patience” and discover ways Elder Neal A. Maxwell says we can learn how to have a good attitude throughout life.
Watch “Mountains to Climb,” a short, inspiring video about keeping our faith through trials.
Watch or read President Henry B. Eyring’s talk “Mountains to Climb,” which inspired the video.
I loved reading this story! the insights from Brother Wilcox were beautiful, and this sister’s experience really touched me. I’ve never thought about the scripture in that way before: God won’t give us stones. When we don’t understand why we’re going through the trials that we are, we can have that reassurance that there is a reason for it. It really can be bread if we keep that perspective and trust in our heavenly Father. The rest of Brother Wilcox’s talk is just as insightful and inspired; I definitely recommend checking it out!
This is optimism at its finest. Thanks for the read—I needed it!
I love this article. It would always really bother me when people would say, “Be careful what you pray for!” I understood that they meant “be careful what you wish for,” but it still bothered me. God isn’t trying to trick us or twist the meanings of our prayers. He always gives us good gifts. Like the story, sometimes they take the form of trials, but they are always for our best good.