Losing Our Ability to See God’s Plan
Yael Eckstein | December 27, 2021
Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. — Exodus 6:9
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Va’era, which means “and I appeared,” from Exodus 6:2–9:35.
If you follow the work that we do at The Fellowship, you know that our primary focus is assistance to the needy. I make it a point to personally travel to visit as many of the people we help as I can. These visits mean a lot to them, and to me.
The contact with someone who cares, who’s there to help, often has an even greater impact on them than the actual food, blankets, and clothing that The Fellowship provides. Most importantly, and I’ve heard this too many times to count, we give them hope. Hope in a future that’s better than what they’ve been through. Hope in humanity.
There’s a statement by the Jewish sages of the Talmud that I often think about when I make one of these visits. The sages said that “God’s presence only rests on someone who is happy.” At first glance this may seem like a simple statement. It may even seem confusing to some people. But it’s very deep. Let me explain.
When We Lose the Ability to See God’s Plan
Have you ever been in an urgent financial situation? Or had a health emergency? Were you able to think about anything besides the crisis of the moment? Were you able to make long-term plans or think about what you would do next to help your community?
When we are suffering, we can’t think beyond the immediate needs of the moment. We can’t connect to our hopes and dreams. This is what the sages meant by their statement. When life becomes difficult to bear, our vision is narrowed. We lose the ability to see the bigger picture of God’s plan.
In this week’s Torah portion, the children of Israel were in exactly this situation. Moses came to them and shared God’s promise to redeem them from slavery, to take them as His people, and bring them to the Promised Land. But as the Bible tells us, “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.”
They simply couldn’t hear the promises of God because of the pain of their predicament.
It wasn’t until the plagues began that the Israelites were able to hear what Moses was saying. Only when they saw God acting on their behalf, did they have hope and the ability to envision a brighter future.
Do you know someone who is in crisis right now? Think of what you can do to give them hope and help them refocus on God’s promises to them.