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Easier Is Not Always Better

Scenic view of the Israel National Trail

Credit:Udi Goren

You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.” — Deuteronomy 1:27

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Devarim, which means “words,” from Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22.

I have a good friend who is a terrific mother, with a very successful career. She’s an amazing woman, and even more so when you learn that she overcame a broken home and other obstacles to achieve her accomplishments. But as she will tell you, she recognizes that the person she is today is only because of all the challenges she had to overcome in her childhood.

Sometimes, easier is not always better.

In this week’s reading, Moses recalled a time when the Israelites were sure that easier was better. They complained to Moses that God brought them out of Egypt, a lush and bountiful land, in order to take them to an arid part of the world that was heavily guarded by its inhabitants. To their minds, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt…” Why would God give them a land that was so difficult?

However, the truth is that when God gave the Israelites a land that was more challenging to cultivate, He was giving them the better land. Because sometimes easier is bad and difficult is good. As the spies who went to check out the land acknowledged: “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us” (Deuteronomy 1:25).

What is so good about a difficult land? In order to cultivate the land of Israel, a lot of prayer would be necessary, which would draw the people closer to God. A lot of work would be needed, which would humble the people and enhance their connection to the land. So many good things come out of hard work and prayer. When everything is easy, a person is often tempted to neglect both. The consequences can lead to a life that is less satisfactory and less successful.

So next time you feel down because of all the challenges God has given you, remember that He gives challenges to those He loves. Every challenge is a chance to grow closer to God and to make something special of yourself and your life.

Easier isn’t always better, and sometimes our difficulties are our greatest gifts!

Your turn:

What has been your most difficult challenge? What did you learn from it? Share your answer below.

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