Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Test of Faith

Dear God,

Children are crying. Fathers lie massacred in pools of blood. The Jewish people are suffering. Our pain prompts me to question whether I should value or reject being labeled “Chosen.” We are a people that has endured persecution and animosity dating back to our enslavement in Egypt. And yet, despite the unlikely circumstances, our people - Your people - have persevered and, by nothing short of a miracle, remain intact today. This illustrious history engenders a pride I could never, no matter the immensity of my efforts, convey in words. However, with such joy, such reverence for my ancestors and their valiant effort to fight existential threat after existential threat comes heartache and indescribable pain. God, we don’t want to hurt any longer.

It seems we’ve been chosen for double standards, hostility, and unwarranted negative attention. Even now, as we flourish in the land You once promised my forefathers, we cannot capture the ever-elusive peace that we, more than anything, have always desired. We’ve been chosen for what? To be a “light unto the nations?” I suppose, in a twisted sense, we’ve become just that. Our every move is placed under a microscope, with critical observers tracking each motion in the hopes that they’ll find something - anything - to use against us in their endless pursuit of our people's delegitimization.  God, why should I want to be “Chosen?” Why should I want to be a part of this seemingly never-ending series of unfortunate events?

Sometimes I question if You’re even up there. I struggle to understand how You could allow such atrocities as innocent, devout men being murdered in the midst of Shacharit. As their praises rang out to You - the God they so unconditionally loved and trusted - they unknowingly awaited their death. Few tests of faith have pushed me to strongly reconsider my relationship with You, God, and this is one of them. I surely can’t be the only one.

Perhaps You’re testing us. I hope that You are. Perhaps I’m supposed to question Your very existence. Perhaps everything really does happen for a reason. These attacks are prompting so many uncertainties. But one thing remains now and forever absolute: my devotion to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I remain committed to Your land. You are our “King, Helper, Savior, Shield,” and yet Jews are being massacred each day. And while I may develop reservations with You, I swear that my devotion to Israel and her people will never waver. The world continues to turn against us. Where is your shield? Where is our savior?

“Listen to our voice, Lord our God. Spare us and have compassion on us.” Have we not called out enough? Have we not sufficiently pleaded for our security? 

“To Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion, and may You dwell in it as promised.” Where are You? Surely the dwelling place from which you are to govern the world should see no pain. Have You not returned? 

Those murdered yesterday were the “righteous, the pious,” and yet they saw no mercy. They met their end in the most miserable fashion. God, I can’t explain what’s happening to my people, and that’s perhaps the most frustrating aspect of my internal struggle. I turn to you in desperation and depression, pleading for salvation, pleading for answers.

Save me. Save my people. Save my family. Let us remain strong. Let us continue to dictate our future as we wish. But please, above all, “grant peace, goodness and blessing, grace, loving-kindness and compassion to us and all Israel Your people.” I want to know that You are there, God. “O Lord, open my lips so that my mouth may deliver your praise.” Grant us the peace we’ve always wanted.