Have you understood the truth that where God places you He graces you (2 Corinthians 12:9)? When you look back on your life, and as you grow in grace, you discover the hand of providence has always been there for you. It has taken on and worked through many forms. The life of Christ has incarnated in more than one person you have encountered, and this has helped you along your way.
One way is through the parents. Babies cannot feed themselves. Toddlers may be able to stuff food in their mouths, but they cannot handle proper eating utensils. Children may be able to use a knife and a fork, but left to their own devices they would subsist on a diet of sweets and snacks. Teenagers may be able to cook for themselves, but how many would have a regular menu of burritos and fries, sodas and chips? No, the parents have to control the diet of their children, in order to best facilitate their growth and health. The child’s responsibility is to eat; the parent’s responsibility is to feed.
This is the way it is with God. When we pray and study as “baby Christians”, we are not so ready yet to be able to feed on the meat of the Word. The Bible declares that we are to “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Just as a toddler moves into adolescence, and can now feed themselves, yet they remain in need of a parent to control their diet, lest they eat nothing but “junk food”.
However, just as a toddler isn’t ready to eat a steak, some of us as believers are “such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Hebrews 5:12). We haven’t yet moved on into a more mature state. This is why Paul told the Corinthians that “I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able” (1 Corinthians 3:2 – ASV).
Indeed, it would seem that even considering milk, we often have need of help digesting the truth. Perhaps you have known of children, whom their mother or father was trying to get used to drinking milk? The children resist, but will comply when a small amount of chocolate is added. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” it has been said.
The problem is when our “daily bread” is the “bread of affliction” – what then? Well, hard as it may seem, one of God’s gifts to us in affliction is that we may experience His Word in a way that we otherwise could not. It is in this place of grace where we learn some of God’s most profound truths. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71).
Martin Luther discovered this “method” of seeing God in His Word. He said there are three rules for understanding Scripture: praying, meditating and suffering trials. The “trials,” he said, are supremely valuable: they “teach you not only to know and understand but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s word is: it is wisdom supreme.”
Therefore the devil himself becomes the unwitting teacher of God’s word: “the devil will afflict you [and] will make a real doctor of you, and will teach you by his temptations to seek and to love God’s Word. For I myself . . . owe my papists many thanks for so beating, pressing, and frightening me through the devil’s raging that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian, driving me to a goal I should never have reached” (What Luther Says, vol. 3 [Concordia Publishing House, 1959], p. 1360).
Well, that is Luther, a “spiritual giant" you might say. What about us as adults, as we are growing in grace? We are told to ask for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11): but is it okay to ask for “chocolate milk” when we ask?
The answer is yes. Perhaps it might be the necessary ingredient we need to be able to digest the truth God is feeding us on. We might liken this to James telling us to ask for wisdom (James 1:5), or to finding the way to escape out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). In any event, we can be sure God has made a provision for us (Genesis 22:13-14). His grace is sufficient.
We must let God control our diet, and not eat too much junk food. But when the going gets tough, it could be wise to ask for a little “chocolate milk” to go with the bread of affliction.