Potholes and speed bumps on the road of life... everyone has them. How do we overcome, or at the very least move on, despite the obstacles that give us a real run for our money?
The Bible is clear that we do not live in a world of random chaos. It makes logical sense to believe that there is an order to all.
When there is an order to the universe, we can sometimes (either intentionally or unintentionally) make decisions that challenge and defy the order G-d has set. The Bible tells us our choices bring us the hardships we face. It is we who mess up the perfect pattern G-d has created.
Nevertheless, Chassidus teaches us to always accept everything in joy. Joy is the fundamental elixir to everything in life. But how is it possible to accept and bear it all and do it joyfully? Chassidus gives us four methods for dealing with difficulties in life.
Humans have defined parameters within which we can see and hear things. Some animals and creatures see and hear more because their range is broader and deeper. The same is true of our minds — they are finite and limited.
The first method is to look at what is happening as coming from an infinite G-d who is way beyond our understanding.
G-d is the source of everything and is essentially good by His nature. If we surrender ourselves to this fact, even when things seem dark, confusing, and incomprehensible, knowing that our pain is from a caring doctor helps us keep a happy attitude.
The second method is to view the pain as a necessary step in polishing parts of our lives that we may have sullied with our bad choices. The pain serves to make us better and stronger than we are at this present moment. Out of G-d’s deep-rooted love for us, He puts us through a procedure that remedies what we may have messed up.
When a person sees his hardships as coming from the love of G-d, this arouses within G-d the desire to minimize his pain and hasten the process. This second approach shortens the process itself.
The third method is to view hardships as an intentional test G-d is putting the person through. G-d wants to see if we will take the hardship more seriously than our determination to keep on going. In this third method, a person is entirely unfazed by the difficulties. The person knows what is expected of him, and nothing will stop him. It is not a matter of the intended good G-d has in mind, nor whether or not G-d is doing this out of love.
With this approach to hardships and determination, the moment the person is totally at peace with the situation because he knows he can never fail at doing his G-dly mission, the test disappears because he has successfully overcome the test and proven himself.
The fourth method is the highest and most potent. The person does not deal with the above three approaches in the fourth method. On this level, he does not even encounter the first taste of the test. This is when he develops a profound knowledge and appreciation for G-d’s interaction with the world to such a point that he sees and experiences everything for the good right from the start.
Once, a great Rabbi sent his student to Reb Zushe, who had encountered every imaginable difficulty in life, to learn how to respond to hardships in life. Reb Zushe told the student he must have come to the wrong Reb Zushe because this Zushe had no problems.