God Is Our Shaper
Yael Eckstein | May 16, 2021
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. — Psalm 62:2
In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his life work helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms. Today at sundown marks the first day of Shavuot, also known as The Festival of Weeks and Pentecost. Since Shavuot is a nonworking holiday, these devotions were prepared for you in advance.
People these days spend a lot of money to get in shape. We pay for gyms and nutritionists, and some people will spend hundreds of dollars on personal trainers. We spend the money because we know that no matter how uncomfortable it is to work hard; our fitness will improve, and we will become stronger. Well, today I’d like to tell you that we all have a personal soul trainer – and He’s absolutely free!
Just as we need to work on our bodies to get in shape, God will cause us to work hard so that He can shape our souls. In Psalm 62, David referred to God as “my rock and my salvation . . .” What exactly does this mean?
The Jewish sages comment that God as our rock has two different meanings. Sometimes it means that God is a firm base for us so that we don’t sink in our troubles and challenges. That’s definitely God as our salvation. However, there is another meaning to the Hebrew word tzuri. It can mean “my rock,” but it can also mean “my shaper.”
God Is Our Shaper
David was saying that when things go our way and we receive miraculous salvation, then that’s God being our rock. However, when things don’t turn out how we might like, it’s a different form of salvation. In those times, God is our shaper. God uses our difficult circumstances in order to form us and shape us into better people.
So much of what we determine in life to be bad for us is actually good for us. Think about it. If we didn’t know better, when we witnessed a personal fitness trainer making someone work so hard that the person was dripping in sweat and his or her face looked distressed, we might think that the trainer was a horrible person! But when we know the context, we understand that the trainer is doing that person a great service. Because of the sweat and stress, that person is going to look better and feel better than ever.
In the same way, God may send us difficult challenges. We might have an impatient child or a critical parent. God is training us to be patient and compassionate. God might place us in a situation where we don’t have a job. He’s training us to have faith in Him, and often enough, to find talents and strengths within ourselves that we never knew about.
So when life isn’t solid like a rock, let’s remember that God is showing up as our shaper. It’s during those times that we need to work hard so that we will come out of every trial in the best spiritual shape possible.