For Your Own Good
He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. — Deuteronomy 8:15-16
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25.
In 1924, after a group of mountain climbers failed at their second attempt to conquer Mount Everest, they gathered in London to discuss the ill-fated adventure. One of the climbers gave a review and then turned to a huge photograph of Everest on the wall behind him and said, “Everest, we tried to conquer you once, but you overpowered us. We tried to conquer you a second time, but again you were too much for us. But, Everest, I want you to know that we are going to conquer you, for you can’t grow any bigger, and we can!”
When I read this quote, it struck a chord with me as I realized that the same idea holds true for the challenges in our lives. No matter how big they are, we can grow stronger and overcome them.
In this week’s reading, Moses recalled the many difficulties that the Israelites encountered in the desert. They spent 40 years wandering the desert facing hunger, thirst, and danger. We also know that the Israelites made forty-two stops during those years, some of them lasting only hours, others lasting decades. The people never knew when they would travel, where they were going, or when they would rest. Yet through it all, the children of Israel grew as a people and became worthy of entering the Promised Land, when others before them had failed to do so.
To me, the most inspirational part of this recap is when Moses explained the reason for the trials in the desert, “… to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” Moses explained that the purpose of all tests in life — both for the Israelites and for our own lives — is so that things will be good for us in the end.
Every test is an opportunity for growth and transcendence. Every trial is a chance to shine. Every challenge brings out potential we never knew we possessed. I pray that we come through all our trials stronger, better, and greater than ever before!
What challenge are you facing right now? How might God be calling you to grow so that you can overcome it?
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