Remembering Past Hardships
Yael Eckstein | February 9, 2023
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. — Deuteronomy 10:18-19
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.
Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino world champion professional boxer. He has had a successful career in politics serving as a senator in the Philippine Senate; he is also a Christian pastor and has been involved in acting, singing, and playing basketball. Now, I don’t follow boxing, but I want to share a story about Manny Pacquiao that has inspired me for years.
In 2015, Manny fought Floyd Mayweather in a highly publicized boxing match. Mayweather beat Manny and celebrated with extravagant partying. But Manny Pacquiao did something remarkable. After the fight, Manny did what he did every time he fought in Las Vegas. He headed straight to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a supportive housing program for homeless youth.
Manny explained that he grew up so poor that he had to drop out of school to help support his family. By 16, he was literally fighting for his life. At the start of his career, a good friend told him, “Manny, don’t you ever forget where you came from. If you forget that, it doesn’t matter how much you win. If you lose where you come from, you lose it all.”
Manny never forgot. And that’s why he continues to bring boxes of gifts and toys for the poor children at St. Jude’s whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Remembering Our Past Hardships
Remembering our past hardships as an inspiration to do acts of love and kindness is a mandate right there in the Bible. We read in Deuteronomy, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”
In ancient times, a foreigner living in a different place was especially vulnerable. The Bible tells us that as God cares for all who are needy and vulnerable, we should, too. But more than that, God commands us to remember where we came from. God wants us to use our own struggles as a constant reminder to help those who are in need.
This is an important lesson. When people come through hardship, especially if that hardship was the result of mistreatment by others, there is a tendency to thank God the suffering is over and leave it at that. Many people even become resentful for the past injustices they endured.
Manny Pacquiao remembered his own hardship the way the Bible tells us to. He used it as a reason to care even more about others.
Whether we have come through hardships in life or lived in relative comfort and ease, we can’t forget about those less fortunate than us. If we’ve had it hard, let’s remember what it’s like and help others in need. If we’ve had it easy, let’s be grateful for being blessed and be a blessing to those less fortunate.