Oy, my bobbe/grandma would talk about the tsuris/trouble in the world. And she certainly had a life of tsuris, watching her cousins killed by the Cossacks during the pogroms in Russia, losing everything, living in poverty, fleeing to America as a child, later to start her family here, blessedly living with our family until her death in 1981. She and my mom’s speaking Yiddish as the household language was the blessing bestowed on us children who then could learn it, as well as her apple strudel. 😊
It seems wherever we turn, tsuris is part of our daily lives. We all know there are seasons when it seems that things aren’t going our way. The word “seasons” connotes the varying times in life – lush, bountiful gardens of spring, sun-filled fun days of summer, spectacularly gorgeous foliage of fall, peaceful, quiet reflection before a crackling fireplace in winter. Many ways to experience the beauty in each season, and yet, each has its challenges – flooding rains and tornados of spring, droughts in summer, hurricanes and damaging winds in fall, bitter cold and snow in winter.
Mankind is created of this world and designed to handle what comes our way. This is not the World to Come. And we often as mortals make choices that don’t make this design any easier! Starting with our own choices in how we treat others, choices others make in how they treat us, to the larger societal pressures that affect our physical and mental health. Our financial stability is also in the mix, and often mixed up, unpredictable.
There are times in our lives when things might be going well personally and world events are more challenging than usual, or vice versa. It does seem, however, that recently all of the pieces, personal and societal, have been disproportionately unreliable to say the least, burdensome more often a better description, often the harshness coming at us personally and societally all at once! We don’t need to be reminded of the war in the Ukraine, global financial instability to a new marked degree, and even world health challenges as we still battle Covid. This societal disequilibrium is now the framework for the personal challenges life brings us as we just try to deal with our daily lives.
Yet with all that as truths, I do not believe we are here primarily to suffer. I do not look at Yeshua’s life just in the instances of His persecution and final suffering and dying for us as the model for our daily lives. In His 33 years here on earth, there were good times too. He ate and fellowshipped with His disciples, and ministered to the lepers and tax collectors too, giving Him, I would imagine, great joy. He performed life-giving miracles, brought life to the dead! In fact, perhaps He is the model that we are to follow of how to embrace life, serve God, bring joy where there was sorrow. His life is actually the perfect example of how to overcome the imperfection of this world and how to fight for joy, as He did in His ultimate resurrection, and as we will some day when we join Him in the World to Com.
And who’s to say suffering is bad? It really isn’t. We are also here to suffer, to strive to overcome and grow from our sufferings. We are strengthened as a result of suffering. When we persevere and overcome obstacles we never thought we could manage, we are made stronger for we learn to lean on Him even more. We are strong in Him. We become reminded, as we must be, that we are weak and He is our strength. In doing so, we grow in the deepest, and most important sense.
Through those hard times we learn to prioritize differently as we see what really are the most important parts of life. We come to emphasize people and relationships over things, love over pettiness. We find parts of ourselves we otherwise never even knew existed, strengths in areas of weakness, knowledge in places of ignorance and blindness, all through experiences God uses to mold us more in His image. We see hope where before was only despair.
Yes, my bobbe suffered, even with poor health for many of her last years. Yet she had countless days of joy too, working hard, so very hard, but being the matriarch here of a family of children and grandchildren she loved and a life filled with love. She may not have consciously known Yeshua, but she loved God. “Oy Got!” (“Oh God” in Yiddish) was a common plea we heard often when times got rough as she would cry out to Him. Without her faith in God, her life would not have been one she could have tolerated, let alone have times of joy.
How much moreso we, as Yeshua’s flock, are blessed. To have His embrace, His Love to bathe us in peace during the hard times, and lift us up to remind us of the joyous ones, no matter what. . .