Defeating the Doubts
Yael Eckstein | March 6, 2023
Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. —Deuteronomy 25:17-18
This month, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Purim, a joyous holiday that commemorates the story of Queen Esther and her courageous stand that saved her people, the Persian Jews, from annihilation.
Have you ever noticed how easy faith is for children? But as we grow older, we realize that faith is complicated. We don’t want it to be that way, but let’s be honest…
We might go to church or synagogue and sing about how great and powerful God is, but then we go home and worry about how we’re going to make it through the rest of the month.
We may confidently speak to friends about our faith in God, but how often do we stay up in bed late at night worrying about all the things that can go wrong in our lives?
The truth is that for many people whose lives are governed by faith, we believe in God, and yet we also experience moments of doubt and even disbelief.
Bottom line: Faith is hard work.
Defeating the Doubts
On the Shabbat before Purim, the synagogue service includes a special reading of the story of Amalek’s attack on Israel just after the Exodus from Egypt. We read, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.”
The Hebrew for “met you” is karecha — literally, “chanced upon you.” This word is strange, of course, because the Bible tells us that Amalek’s attack was deliberate.
The Jewish sages explain that Amalek believed that everything in the world happens by random chance, that there is no plan, that there is no God watching over us, and that there is certainly no divine intervention. For Amalek, everything is coincidence.
This is the opposite of what Israel stands for. Israel represents the idea that there is a God in the world, a God who is intimately involved in the running of the world down to the very last detail. Nothing is coincidence and everything has meaning.
Israel stands for faith in God — that He is always running the show, that He has a plan, and that His plan is good. Faith in God means that nothing happens by chance.
And this is the message of Purim. The story of the Book of Esther is filled with what appears to be a series of fortunate coincidences. And that’s the point.
We defeat the doubts in our lives by strengthening our faith, by reminding ourselves that God is intimately involved in every aspect of life, that there are no coincidences.
Let’s put our doubts to rest. Spend a few minutes in prayer, remembering that God is in control, and that nothing is by chance.