The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
A note to our readers: The second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is observed today. Because it is a non-working holiday, these devotions were prepared for you in advance.
The Torah portion for this week is Vayelech, which means "and he went," from Deuteronomy 31:1-30, and the Haftorah is from Hosea 14:2-10.
In this week's portion we come across this encouraging verse: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." What a powerful message for those who are going through rough times! As a friend of mine often says, "There are two types of people: Those who are going through difficulties and those who have not yet gone through difficulties."
Everyone falls on hard times at some point, and so this verse is relevant to us all. It's one of those Scriptures you want to keep close at all times, just in case you need to pull it out at a moment's notice!
Recently, there was a news story that truly demonstrates how God neither leaves nor forsakes anyone. In Sarasota, Florida, pianos were placed in public areas for anyone to play. One homeless man, Donald Gould, surprised a number of passersby when he sat down to play with the proficiency of a great professional. His amazing "performance" was captured on someone's phone, uploaded to the Internet, and then went viral. The sight of the skinny man with the long hair and beard, playing his heart out, captured the hearts of millions.
Next, Donald's story was uncovered. He was a former U.S. Marine who had turned to drugs and alcohol following the death of his wife. Unable to care for their son, social services took the little boy away. Eventually, the boy was adopted by a loving family who raised him. That boy, now 18, hadn't seen his father since he was a toddler. Donald said on camera that he thought about his son every day. The media tracked down the boy and the two spoke over the Internet in a heart-warming reunion. Moreover, Donald received a haircut, a shave, and new clothing. He looked like a different man. He even received an invitation to finish the college he fell just shy of graduating. He has entered a center for drug rehabilitation, and the future looks promising.
I think God may have shown us this story to send us a message of hope. No matter how low a person has sunk, he or she is never forsaken. God can create small coincidences that can ripple into major life changes. God goes before us, paving our path, and He is with us, holding our hand. No one is beyond hope. God is with us when things are bad, and He doesn't abandon us when things get better. We are never alone, and we can get through all of life's difficulties knowing that He's got us in the palm of His hand.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President