I think in our times, more than ever, it is hard to have faith.
We are so used to immediate gratification with instant messages and immediate downloads that we are trained to wait for nothing. The modern mindset is: I want it and I want it now. And so, today, when we put in a heartfelt prayer to God and we are not granted our wish in quick time, it really is hard to have faith.
How long do we have to wait until things get better? How long do we have to wait ‘til we meet the right mate? How long do we have to wait until God gets busy doing His job? But I believe that that space between “what we want” and “what we have” is holy ground and how we walk upon that space tells God who we are: Will we cheat to get what we want? Will we step on others to get where we want to go? Will we become mean, petty and jealous because the things we want are lacking? How we behave while our prayers are being processed gives testament to our character. God is not ignoring us, but rather is watching us closer than ever to see how we behave when our life doesn’t download as we desire.
I believe, ultimately, that there are two kinds of faiths: the simple kind which says, “Don’t worry, everything will be good.” And then there is the wise faith which says, “I am worried, but it is all for the good.” It perhaps is not the fairytale kind of good that Hollywood offers us, but it is the good that is part of God’s greater plan for us—the difference being that Hollywood puts people up in lights, while God wants people to be the lights.
Now let’s not dismiss Hollywood altogether, for it does have a few great script lines to offer us. In The Ten Commandments, when Moses is first banished into the desert, the narrator takes over and says: “He can neither bless nor curse the power that moves him, for he does not know from where it comes. Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for God’s great purpose, until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the maker’s hand.”
Like Moses and the people he led, most of us have to cross our own personal desert of despair, a desert that serves as our testing ground, our fortifier or our destroyer. And like Moses, many of us won’t make it to the Promised Land and we are left parched for answers as to why in this great age of communication it is only God that does not answer us. Or is it simply that His answer is “no”?
In this week’s Torah portion we read how God was angry at Moses for striking the rock twice instead of speaking to it as he was instructed to do. It was that sin that barred him from entering the Holy Land. Why was God so mad for that? Because how we behave while we are waiting counts for everything! A man of Moses’ stature had no right to display such anger and impatience while waiting for the rock to give forth water. In life we all must walk through our hardships and disappointments with dignity and morality, and figuratively take off our clamoring shoes, for the space between “what we want” and “what we have” is holy ground.
So tread with grace my friends, and know always Who walks beside you.