He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11
A story is told about the famous Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, who lived during both the 19th and 20th centuries. The rabbi was renowned for his warmth and wisdom. One day, he ran into someone he knew who had been struggling to make a good living. In his caring way, Rabbi Kagan asked the man how things were going in the area of sustenance. The man replied, “It could be better.”
The rabbi looked the man in the eyes and gently but firmly admonished the man, “If it could be better, then it would be better. God would make it better. If it is not better, then it’s because it cannot possibly be any better than the way things are right now.”
The rabbi’s words seem very simple, but they are, in fact, very deep and hugely significant when it comes to the happiness in our lives. What the rabbi was trying to teach this man is that everything in life is exactly as it should be.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon put it this way: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Everything God does is perfect. Everything unfolds in the right way at exactly the right time. But, the verse also goes on to say: “He has also set eternity in the human heart . . . ” One way of understanding this phrase is that the desires of the human heart are endless.
Even though God runs the world and our lives perfectly, our nature is to want more, better, faster, and now. Solomon concluded with “yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” No matter what we think we need right now, only God can see the whole picture from beginning to end, so only He knows what is best for each of us at any given moment.
It doesn’t matter how much one has if he or she does not feel that it is enough. Knowing that God has made our lives beautifully, right now and every day, leads to a life of gratitude and joy. In Jewish practice, one of the prayers we offer daily is to thank God “who has given me everything I need.” We acknowledge that God blesses us daily by fulfilling our exact needs.
In a world that constantly bombards us with the message that we need more and that life should be better, let’s take a moment to acknowledge that if things could be better, they would be. If God has placed us in the situation we are in today, it is because that is exactly what our soul needs to develop into all that we can be. God has made a beautiful world – let’s rejoice and praise Him.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President