Financial worries, health issues, trouble with children, in law
problems, marital conflicts...the list seem endless. One of the
questions a thinking person should ask is why? Why is life so
hard? Why are there so many issues, worries and anxieties that
afflict man? And worse it doesn't stop. Just when things are
starting to move smoothly, something else pops up-and undoes it
all. It almost seems orchestrated. The perplexing part is that
we aren't talking about wicked individuals. We're talking about
good people. People who do what they should be doing-and yet
they suffer in very real ways. The question we need to ask is
We accept that HASHEM is more giving and loving than any person
we could ever imagine or envision. And HASHEM is very capable.
HASHEM could have easily made man very differently. HASHEM could
have made life very differently, and there wouldn't be any
suffering. Not a little, not a lot-none. And so the question
that begs being asked is why. Why is life so difficult? Why does
it seem to be so hard?
To understand this we need a different perspective of life.
Progressive weight training
A rather yeshivishe fellow went to a power-lifting gym to learn
how to work out. As a kid, he had little experience with sports
and was clearly out of his element. Recognizing this, the coach
showed him various exercises and worked closely with him.
One day this fellow was overheard saying, "That coach, I
don't know what's with him. Every time I get the exercise right,
he goes and adds more weight to the bar. What's wrong with him?"
The point this fellow missed was that progressive weight
training is all about increasing the load. The goal of the
activity is to coax the body to grow. By gradually increasing
the work load, the body is called upon to respond. The work
should never be easy. The nature of the activity is to
incrementally increase the demand placed on the body, thereby
causing it to grow.
This is a good parable because in life we are put into many
situations. If a person doesn't understand why he is on this
planet, he will have many questions. Why does it seem that there
is a never ending stream of difficult situations? Why is it that
when I finally get things under control, a whole new set of
circumstances arises that sets everything out of kilter? Why
can't life just be easy?
The point that he is missing is the very purpose of life. HASHEM
put us on this planet to grow. Many of the challenges and
situations are given to us specifically for that reason. It
isn't by accident, and it isn't because HASHEM doesn't pay
attention. Quite the opposite, these situations were
hand-designed to demand from us. They are catalysts to change
who we are.
In weight training, the movement of the bar isn't the
significant part; the demand on the body is. So too in life, the
situations I face are far less significant than my reactions to
them. Who I become is a result of my attitude and the way I
handle my challenges.
The end result is that life is beautiful, but it isn't a walk in
the park. A life properly led will have moments of doubt, pain,
and confusion. That doesn't mean that we are on the wrong path,
and it doesn't mean that life doesn't make sense. Quite the
opposite, if life is going too smoothly, it's a bad sign. Since
the purpose of life is to grow, we need the challenges of life
to help us reach our potential.
The new Shmuz on Life book:
Stop Surviving and Start Living is now in print! It is a
powerful, inspiring work that deals with major life issues. To
read more about it