I guess this is a similar idea, a similar notion to “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
It is, at least for me, that moment that challenges my faith more than anything else. I have arguments and discussions with myself, where I say that I am not being as faithful as I should be, I am not praying enough, I am not believing strongly enough… There is a seed of doubt, and that is what is causing all of these problems… And of course we all know that seeds grow.
This is not an easy thing to accept, nor is it an easy thing to accept that G-d is testing us because He loves us. Most of us would say, I don’t need the tests. I get it.
On the other hand, as that thought comes out of my brain and mouth (I was recording this so I could capture my true train of thought)… When we are tested and we overcome it, that is a far greater accomplishment. Doing something when it is easy is… well… easy. Doing something when it is hard is perhaps more valuable.
In the end, after the fact, we do feel much better about ourselves. Wow that was a real challenge! Look what I did! Look what I had to overcome. This is an important human thing… a human need… to triumph… To overcome tragedy, accomplish a goal, achieve something in the face of great odds. But it is AFTER THE FACT. These are things we cannot possibly know or understand while we are going through these tests and challenges. Most of the time we have to focus all of our efforts and energies on the battle, and while we may hope and PRAY that we come out on the other side, stronger and in a better position, there really is no guarantee.
So the question is how do we stay strong, how do we stay faithful, how do we not lose faith, how do we not question.
Since this blog is always very personal and usually written as I am in the midst of things… This is where I am right now. And I can tell you honestly, I don’t know where exactly I am going to come out of this. I am in a period of great tests and great challenges… and they are coming at me all at once and on every level… personal, professional, etc. At times every day living can be enormously challenging… And yes, I temper it with the fact that there are those in much worse shape than I am… those who literally have nothing… and so I do have to mock myself at times with the notion of my “First World problems.”
But I am getting hit on almost every level, and my body and brain feel stressed and overwhelmed, so the question becomes: How do I stay faithful?
The irony about this post, is that as I am turning to Judaism… to all the teachings and learnings and using them to help me get through. So that’s a good thing!
There are teachings from Rabbis, lessons from friends, things that I’ve read, that I take to heart…that I use to push me through. So I suppose that IS me staying faithful, fighting the good fight, trying to use Judaism to get me to the other side of all of this.
I often to refer to Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld’s great teaching and life lesson of how Hashem has Three Answers To Our Prayers. And it is NEVER No!
2) NOT YET
3) I HAVE SOMETHING BETTER IN MIND
So while I feel lost and uncertain, I am not yet lost. Hope and faith are still within me. And it is not blind… It is debated and discussed… seemingly endlessly in my brain and my banter with Hashem. And yes, I do BANTER with Hashem (Thank you, Rabbi Nachman for that!)
And so, I am hoping, and still praying for my prayers to be answered. I am still clinging to faith… and I have Judaism to thank for that. I sent a whole list with my friend Shlomo to place in the Kotel! It is, perhaps ironically, what is getting me through, in the face of what seems like a whole lot of unanswered prayers… a whole lot of tests… a whole lot of challenges.