Ever feel like God is testing you, like you are being sent curveballs and fastballs from the Almighty just to see how you will react and respond? Well, guess what, you are right! You are being tested. Welcome to your mission in life!
Our Sages teach us that every person exists to bring about a certain Tikkun, a reparation to our Souls and to the world at large, to fix some imperfection, to right a certain wrong, to uproot some sort of spiritual flaw.
In Parshat Lech Lecha, Avraham is sent on a wild string of ordeals that challenge his commitment to God and to his life mission. Our Sages teach us that Avraham underwent 10 tests in total and passed all of them. In Jewish tradition anything that happened in the lives of our forefathers set the stage for what will happen to their children. So just as Avraham gets a series of tests and challenges to fulfill his potential, so too every single one of us must go through tests in our life to bring about our Tikkun.
Though tests can come in so many shapes and sizes and everyone’s test are different, I would like to focus on 4 different categories of struggle that might be related to one’s mission in life. Most of our tests will generally fall into one of these three categories. The more we are aware of these struggles, the more likely it is that we will navigate our way through it with the correct attitude and perspective.
1) Our Struggle with God
May times in our life we are faced with difficult decisions between what we know God wants us to do and what we feel like doing. Often we must make painful sacrifices in our life for the sake of growing spiritually. We are all put in this world with certain Torah commandments that we find rather simple, and others which are difficult for us either because it goes against our nature or because we just aren’t used to it. But part of our life mission is to make sure that we are constantly growing at a healthy pace, taking on new Mitzvot and integrating more and more of Gods will into our life.
2) Our Struggle with Realizing our Potential and Actualizing our Dreams
The great Chassidic master Rav Tzadok HaKoen of Lublin said “Every Jew is uniquely qualified in one aspect, superior in that respect to any other person. In that one matter, he is like a king over the Jewish People.” No two people are the same. Each of us have our own talents, strengths, passions and life circumstances that give us the opportunity to contribute something to the world that is absolutely unique to us. In some way, be it large or small, every single one of us can change the world.
But most of us are guilty of small thinking. We think about today and tomorrow, next week and, maybe, next year. We think about how we are going to maneuver around in this little world that we are in at the moment. But in order to really actualize our potential, we need to challenge ourselves to dream bigger, and to chase our dreams without giving up until we feel we have left our unique mark on the world.
3) Our Struggle with Bad Middot (Character)
We have all got ‘em. In Hebrew our emotions are called Middot, and negative character traits are often referred to as “bad middot”. Often these flaws in our character cause us to act inappropriately and to hurt our relationship with others as well as with God. Included in this might be a burning lust for inappropriate sexual encounters, a bad temper, lack of ambition, excessive fear, greed etc.
Bad middot is something that we all struggle with, yet certain people might feel that they have an overload of one specific trait that haunts them more than the others, and more than other people. In this area we fall again and again, and it seems that there is no shortage of triggers for this behavior. It is quite likely that this specific trait is somehow intertwined with our Tikkun in the world and it is through working on this specific trait that we will accomplish our purpose in this world.
4) Our Struggle with Pain and Suffering
Why do bad things happen to good people? What mystery of life is greater than this one? But every single person needs to go through some share of suffering in this world, some great and some small, to bring about some kind of reparation to the Neshama. It can be financial troubles, health issues, or- God forbid- loss of a loved one, but all of that relates to something greater than we can understand.
For some souls, their mission can be to come on this planet for a very short time; a week, a year, a few years, and then be taken away from the world. For this pure soul, this short time on this world might be all it needs to accomplish its mission, for the others that are affected by it, the pain and suffering is tremendous. This, too, relates to their own mission and what they need to accomplish.
In conclusion, as we go through life and encounter any of these 4 struggles, we should keep in mind that something big in our lives is taking place. This could, in fact, be why we were put here in this world and we should approach it with love. This is our place to shine. To, once again, quote the great Rav Tzadok “The areas where a person struggles most are the areas where he is destined for greatness if he chooses to put in the effort.”