Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Everything Works Out in the End: Even when it doesn’t appear to

Many mistakenly think that having faith in God means believing that if we pray and make reasonable efforts, our difficulties will go away. What perpetuates this myth is that thank God, many difficulties do eventually go away. However, we cannot deny that sometimes they do not. For example, even after prayer and effort, some people never regain their health, find a spouse or have kids. With this reality in mind, what are you to believe, that things will work out or that maybe they won’t?

God loves you and has helped others in even more dire situations. With faith, you are hopeful and optimistic that He will help you as well. At the same time, you realize that some difficulties may not go away in this lifetime or before the Messiah comes. With faith, you are able to accept that possibility and draw strength from three key beliefs:

(1) All your difficulties – those that last a short time and those that last a lifetime – are from a loving God for your eternal benefit.

(2) God will support you throughout your challenges, giving you the tools you need to handle them.

(3) Whatever you lack in this world, will be made whole in the World to Come, where your soul will experience complete fulfillment and eternal bliss. Until that time, you just need to pray to God, do your best, and use your difficulties as opportunities for growth.

To answer our original question, will things work out? The answer is an unequivocal yes! They always do. The question is only when, in this world or in the World to Come.

This perspective enables you to face challenges with equanimity. Regardless of what happens, you are optimistic things will soon improve, and are accepting if they do not. You are able to be patient because you know that if something is truly good for you, you will eventually receive it, at the optimal time and way.

King David exemplified this perspective that everything works out in the end. He wrote in Psalms (27:13), that his faith in God enabled him to handle intense challenges. He shudders at what would have happened had he not had unshakable faith, when he wrote, “Had I not believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living!”

The Sages teach that the “land of the living” refers to the World to Come. We see from this that what gave King David strength was that regardless of what might happen in this world, he “would see the goodness of God” in the World to Come.

The same applies to us. While our difficulties may get resolved even in this world, we never know for sure. With faith we trust that regardless of the challenge, one of two outcomes will occur. Either, (1) God will turn around even a seemingly hopeless situation, or, (2) we will receive the ultimate good in the World to Come, where we will experience the “goodness of God.”

With this knowledge, “Place your hope in God; strengthen yourself and He will instill courage in your heart, and place your hope in God (ibid: 14).”

This verse mentions twice the phrase “place your hope in God.” Why?

Perhaps, the first “place your hope in God” is referring to the first outcome – where God turns around in this world even a dire situation. As long as that is still possible, King David encourages you to “place your hope in God” – pray to Him and have faith that He will help you if it is for your highest good. In addition, “strengthen yourself and He will instill courage in your heart” – strengthen yourself to make reasonable efforts and God will give you the courage you need.

The second “place your hope in God” refers to if the window of opportunity for that issue has closed, e.g., a woman yearns to give birth to children but the years of fertility pass, or an ill family member passes on. In those cases, King David advises you to “place your hope in God,” – trust that in the next world, God will give you what you currently lack.

Knowing that everything will work out in the end, why wait until then to be happy and free of worry? Be happy now. Let go of worry now. Refuse to waste time and energy feeling down or worried.

We do not know how life will turn out; often, life does not go the way we expect. Our Creator made life that way on purpose: It’s what humbles us before an all knowing God; it’s what challenges us to have faith in Him; it’s what makes life an adventure into the unknown, where if we do our best, we are guaranteed success.

Instead of insisting life go your way, open up to the way life is right now, without needing anything to change. Living life to the full – just the way it is – is your ticket to a fulfilling life.

Please share this post with family and friends by using the icons below. 

Please subscribe to this blog by typing your email address in the box on the upper right and clicking on the "Subscribe" tab.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cheshvan: Prayer

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat is the Shabbat Project. For an article about this worldwide initiative click here.

The rest of this post is about the Jewish month of Cheshvan, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.