When Things Don’t Go Our Way

Yael Eckstein  |  July 11, 2022

Black and white image of a man holding his head in his hands.

Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. —Numbers 22:31

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Balak, after the king of the Moabites, from Numbers 22:2–25:9.

Have you ever had a bad day — a day when it seemed like nothing was going your way? Or maybe you’ve had a week like that, or a year, or a decade?

We’ve all had times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. It can feel like God was dealing harshly with you and keeping you from something you thought you needed or wanted.

Maybe you had your heart set on a certain job but then the job fell through. Or maybe you were looking for a home to rent or buy, and you thought you found the perfect place, but no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t get it. Maybe you thought you found the person that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, but that person didn’t feel the same way about you.

At times like this we need to remember that sometimes, when things don’t go our way, it’s the best thing to ever happen to us.

When Things Don’t Go Our Way

We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion. Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam, a powerful sorcerer, to curse the children of Israel. Balaam knew that God did not look kindly on this mission, but he decided to go anyway, traveling on his donkey.

Along the way, God sent an angel who appeared with a sword in its hand to block Balaam’s path. God allowed the donkey to see the angel, but Balaam couldn’t see it. Balaam’s donkey wouldn’t move forward because of the angel.

Because Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he started to beat his donkey. Finally, God opened Balaam’s eyes: “Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.”

The angel then told Balaam that God sent him to stop Balaam from cursing Israel. He told Balaam to continue on his journey, but to only say what God would put in his mouth. In the end, Balaam blessed Israel instead of cursing them.

Balaam was angry at his donkey for not moving, but he didn’t realize that God was preventing him from committing a grave error. What looked like an obstacle in his path was actually what set him straight. God was saving him, even if he couldn’t see it.

When things don’t go our way, maybe God is doing the same thing for us!

Your Turn:

Think of a time that God blocked your way from something you wanted. Have faith that God knows what’s best for you, even when you can’t see it.