In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Isaiah 63:9
The Torah reading for this week is Nitzavim, which means "standing," from Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 61:10-63:9.
As any parent will tell you, one of the hardest things about having kids isn't about changing diapers in the middle of the night when they are babies or waiting up for them in the wee hours of the morning when they are teens. It's not even the two-year-old tantrums. I think the most difficult moments of parenthood come when we watch our children suffer. It could be an illness or a broken bone, or the rejection they experience from a friend or the taunts of a school bully. No matter what the cause, nothing is as hard as watching your own child cry out in pain.
It was through such an experience that I understood God's pain and God's love for His people. Many years ago, when one of my daughters, a young child at the time, sprained her ankle badly, I wanted so much to take my child's pain away. As she cried, my stomach was in knots. As she winced in pain, my face was contorted as well. Because when you love someone so much, nothing is worse than seeing that person suffer.
We are God's children, and God feels our pain no less than we feel the pain of our own children. God wants to help us just as much as we want to help those whom we love. God wants everything to be better for us just as much as we want the best for our loved ones.
In this week's Haftorah portion we read, "In all their distress he too was distressed." For all those people out there who think that God doesn't know your pain - here it is in Scriptures God does know our pain and He feels our pain. God sees you, He knows what you are going through, and He loves you.
Sometimes, God sends us painful situations because it may be good for us. Just as a painful surgery can save a life, pain in our lives is often part of a good thing. However, God wants the hurting part of whatever we are going through to stop just as much as we do, if not more. We don't have to go through life feeling alone, abandoned, or in a perpetually painful situation. As believers, we can walk confidently through life knowing that God wants the best for us, and when the time is right, He will redeem us.
The verse continues, "In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them." Know today that God is with us in our difficult times. He is with us in our pain and He brings us through to salvation.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President