TRUST, HOPE OR DENIAL?
We have declared “n’asay v’nishma” we will do and we will hear. We have accepted the Torah and now we must carry out into our daily lives what we have accepted. The good that God has given us is the Torah. Through the written word and the oral tradition it is the guide we use to conduct our lives, which is guided by its truths. However, being given the Torah does not give us immediate, special protection from the uncertainties in life, and one should be realistic regarding the task of “we will do and we will hear”. Pursuing the path of truth takes courage, but courage does not make one immune to sin. By using good judgment and common sense we can hopefully avoid the pitfalls of denial. The trap of denial is very powerful, and not admitting when we are wrong, sets up the trap. Then when a situation occurs that becomes intolerable we will look to blame it on someone else, or on God. It is our own doing according to the Rambam. We should look into our ways and confront our own denial and ask God to assist us. Most of the time we cannot admit that we are in denial. Not according to the Rambam who says that a person has the ability to change, that is the purpose of free will. In challenging times we should have a keener awareness of this emotion of denial, how much more so when things are “going great” and we are naturally much less introspective. Since there is no life without sin, if we do lose our focus and commit sin we should remember that we can still put our trust in God. We should remind ourselves of this constantly. If we commit sin we should not allow ourselves to feel distant from God, which causes a person to lose trust in God. “What’s the use, it’s hopeless.” When a person is overwhelmed with guilt they believe they cannot return to God. In effect, they “lose hope”, “Why should God help me out this time?” When a setback or crisis befalls us, we hear: “It’s beshert, it’s probably meant to be, maybe check your mezuzas.” Have you heard that? That’s all denial. Do we take trust in God for granted or are we caught up in denial? When we are successful we think we are so brilliant, but when we are unsuccessful we blame it on God. Either way it’s denial. It is God Who provides us with our needs by giving us the means to obtain what we need at the appropriate time. When was the last time you heard: “Use your intelligence and do everything you possibly can to help your situation. Put your trust in God and be hopeful.”
What is the difference between hope and trust? What does hope mean? Here is the dictionary’s definition of hope: a desire for some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable, to want and expect, to trust or rely. Here is the definition of trust: confident expectation of any event; anticipation or hope. Hope and trust are related. Without trust in God hope is meaningless. Hope itself is futile without trust in the One we direct our hope to. We are asking for God’s mercy when we talk about being hopeful. When we “hope it works out” our desire is that God will have rachmanus, mercy on us.
When King David took Batsheva for his wife it was considered evil in God’s eyes because she was still the wife of Uriah. David had Uriah killed in battle and Batsheva mourned her husband. David was told by the prophet Nosson, that the child born to him and Batsheva was destined to die. This was a punishment and for 7 days David mourned and repented before God with the hope that the child would live. God’s justice decreed that the child would die, yet David “never gave up hope” that God would have mercy on him. He faced the reality of his situation and went before God. No matter what situation befalls us, we should look into it and determine whether the situation was caused by our denial. If it was then we should repent before God with honesty and never give up on the hope of God’s mercy. At any time we can reinstate our trust and hope in God. We always have the opportunity to reconnect through sincere tefila and change our focus and regain our trust in God. “Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs, 29:25. Safe from denial. Safe in reality.