Blessings and resilience
This remarkable journey called life is made up of peaks and valleys, triumphs, and disappointments. King David writes in Psalm 92, “It’s good to thank Hashem; to relate your kindness in the morning, and your faith in the nights.”
There are times when we enjoy the kindness of Hashem in the form of good health, prosperity, and nachas. Those times are referred to as the morning, when G-d’s blessings are clearly visible. There’s also night time. Those difficult periods of darkness.
As Jews, we don’t believe in any old system. G-d has a perfect track record. G-d took us out of Egypt 3 336 years ago with supernatural miracles and appeared to the entire nation, three million people, at Mount Sinai. Every other religion is based on the revelation of one single person.
In addition to this watertight tradition, we see G-d every moment of our lives. Whether we focus on the breathtaking detail of every organ in the human body functioning in harmony as a magnificent single organism, or we look at the vast world we live in from the great nuclear reactor in the sky to the exquisite natural world, especially here in Africa. It’s obvious to the rational mind that all of this isn’t a random accident, but the deliberate design of an intelligent creator.
Just as the world isn’t arbitrary or coincidental, so too everything that happens in our lives both individually and communally is tailor-made by G-d. Everything is an opportunity for the development of the soul. Most of what happens to us is out of our control. It’s up to us to choose how to react to our circumstances. We could be filled with arrogance and self-aggrandisement during the good times, and bitterness and resentment during the darkness.
Sometimes the darkness is thick and debilitating. We can lose our way and become consumed with despair. Our holy tradition teaches us that our suffering is purposeful.
It’s a necessary part of our journey that we don’t understand. G-d said to Joab after a life of tragedy and suffering, “Where were you when the world was created?”
Our lives are a brief blip in the long timeline of the soul. We’re here for five short minutes in a three-hour movie. Our souls have been to this world before. This life is an opportunity to rectify those deficiencies in our souls that need perfection. We don’t have access to the divine computer. Our perspective and understanding is extremely limited. Our challenge is to accept that which we don’t understand.
One of our primary goals in life is to train ourselves to thank G-d for the abundance of blessings showered upon us – “to relate your kindness in the morning” – and to develop resilience in faith in times of darkness – “and your faith in the nights”.