Why Are Problems Good?
Oh, do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land. For they are but bread for us to eat! The Lord is with us and he has removed his protection from them! Don’t be afraid of them! Numbers 14:9 LB
A Sunday school teacher, trying to impress the boys in her class, told the story of David and Goliath. In the class was one boy with an attitude. He thought he was pretty tough himself, so the teacher stressed how big Goliath was, picturing him as so big and tall that he would have dwarfed Yao Ming, the seven-foot five giant of a basketball player—China’s import to the Houston Rockets at the time.
Turning to the boy, she said, “How would you like to fight someone that big?” Squirming, the lad replied, “No way, but if you bring on someone about my size, I’ll take him on any day!” The problem though is that the giants you have to face don’t come “special order.” Some problems seem to be your size; some are giants, yet you still have to face them. When Moses sent spies into the land, they came back saying that their foes were giants. In assessing the situation, Joshua made a fascinating statement. He said, “Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9 KJV).
The giants, he said, are “bread” for us. The word he used was generally used for wheat or grain which had been ground and made into a loaf. The same word was used for the showbread in the tabernacle. He is really saying that these giants whom you fear will be ground like wheat, becoming—yes! —bread for you. You will thrive on them, seeing what God does. And like the nourishment you get from bread, they will feed your faith and make you strong. That’s the way it is with the giants in your life. You would prefer that you not have to take on the giants; but remember, without bread you die, and without taking on the giants in your life, you will never know that God is bigger than any problem you will ever face.
Giants show you the limitations which beset you so you will know that God—not your ingenuity or cleverness—took down the giant. The measure of your fear also reveals the strength or weakness of your faith. Too often we never lift our eyes above the giants of life to the strength of God above. He turns giants into pigmies.
They are bread for you, says Joshua. An unknown author wrote, “Every time you meet a difficulty, every time you find yourself in an impossible situation, ask yourself this question: ‘Am I going to starve here, or am I going to eat?’ If you are relying on the Lord for victory and allow His overcoming life to be manifested in you, you will find fresh nourishment and increased vitality, and you will be fed once again. Bear in mind that people who do not eat well cannot grow into maturity. Our bread is not only the Word of God, our meat is not only to do His will, our bread is also the Anakim (the giants)—the difficulties in our way.”
So, what happens when you see a giant looming in your pathway? Smile and say, “Here comes my bread!” And thank God that the giant can be subdued. A closing thought: Most contemporary, modern translations leave out the phrase describing the giants as “bread,” but that’s exactly what Joshua said, and knowing that God put the giant in your path so that you might subdue it and thus grow from the experience makes the whole ordeal less frightening.
Joshua’s advice is good for us today: Don’t rebel against God, don’t fear the giant; but like David, confront him in the name of the Lord, and your giant will be bread for your soul.
Resource reading: Number 14:1-24