Why did the Old Testament patriarchs build altars from stones? The stones were gathered and piled for a place of worship. You could theorize that it was a readily available material, and that may be true, but there is a deeper reason. God insisted that the only suitable material for building an altar of worship were made by God, not made by man. Exodus 20:25 states, "If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it."
There is something else about stones that is important, they are hard. When Jacob went to bed on his journey away from home, he use a stone as a pillow. It was the ultimate metaphor for Jacob's situation, he was between a rock and a hard place. Stones are symbols of the hard things in our lives; hard problems and hard circumstances. Sometimes they stack up, and when they do we seldom consider them to be something that helps us worship the Lord. Yet, that is exactly what the hard things in life do for us.
Stack your hard problems as a place of offering and worship to the Lord. While this is not your first impulse when it comes to trials, the scripture shows us to do it nonetheless. At that altar you will offer the sacrifice of praise. You will call upon the name of your Lord in tears trusting that He is the God of hard things and the God who uses our most crushing moments to release His greatest power and glory. Get honest before the Lord and get busy stacking up the hard things. You will meet the Lord at that painful place.
Jacob hears the voice of the Lord Artist: SANDYS, Anthony Frederick 1881