God's will

Why do many people say in response to certain situations, "It is God's will." How can any human say with certainty what is or isn't God's will? To know God's will, wouldn't one have to know God's mind?

I think many people use the phrase "It is God's will" to explain the unexplainable, to accept the unacceptable, and to make convenient for their sake that which is unattainable. This can be frightening when men use their perception of God's will to justify war/oppression/prejudice. Do you agree?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Of course we don't know for certain why God does what He does.

But we do know that God does not challenge us with trivialities. He only challenges us in ways which will truly get us to grow. If we're imbalanced in one area, He will send a challenge to modify that trait.

The whole concept of mitzvot is that they are actions which work against our nature. The Torah doesn't give us a mitzvah to breathe, because we're going to do it anyway. But since we may have a tendency to horde money, the Torah asks us to re-dispense 10 percent of our income to charity. If everyone gladly gave away money voluntarily, the Torah wouldn't need to bother telling us to do so. All the mitzvot direct our growth, building our weaknesses into strengths.

So whenever we encounter a challenge, we should train ourselves to ask: "What is this teaching me?" Find someone you trust, and ask for their perspective on whatever issues you're grappling with. Ultimately, we will never know for sure if we've hit upon the "ultimate" reason. But asking the question is always a crucial first step.

Difficulties are going to happen. That we cannot change. What we can change is our attitude. Will we view life's difficulties as a nuisance, or as a message? Life is not about suffering. Life is about growing and making the changes we were put here to make. To fulfill our potential and become truly great.

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