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The Voice of the Conflicted Soul

The Voice of the Conflicted Soul

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Your name shall be called Israel, for you have struggled with G‑d . . . and prevailed.

Genesis 32:29

There are times in my life when I really feel resentful towards You. I feel so much anger for the anguish You cause.

After all, all that I ask for is security, tranquility, happiness and love. Is that too much to ask? It would be so easy for You to provide this to me!

Yet, time after time, You throw insurmountable challenges my way. You tantalize me with periods of calm and happiness, only to abruptly disrupt them with new dark and terrifying storms.

It is true that, in retrospect, I often discover that I’ve grown from these challenges. But all too often—in fact, more often than not—this growth is not at all apparent to me. I’m left instead with a deep sense of insecurity, wondering how You could have forsaken me like that, haunted by the fear of the next impending storm.

It is true that many times I perceive the positive benefits of these trials. But, believe me, even then, the benefits do not erase the prior pain. The hurt that You had inflicted on me was real. So was the fear, and the tears that fell from my eyes.

Knowing that You are all-capable, how do I justify the suffering that You inflict on me? Knowing that You certainly could have somehow arranged it that I should reap the intended benefit without needing to experience the pain, how can I understand, much less explain, Your actions?

And, it isn’t merely the question of me. My anger and resentment is amplified and magnified by the many others around me. I see their suffering and hardship, their wants and needs, and I have no answers.

Perhaps if You answered me, You would tell me that I shouldn’t focus on the lacks, but on the good in our world. I should be grateful for the many positive things in my life—the love that surrounds me, my family, my health—the abundant goodness that You have blessed me with.

For some reason, though, the taste of that sweetness makes me drunk for more.

And the love You shower upon me makes me need the goodness more. It’s not just for me now, but also for my loved ones. My passionate protectiveness for them makes my needs—our needs—all the more pressing.

So, those are the times when I feel resentful towards You. My mind cannot justify why You allow it to happen. Why don’t You shield me, them, all of us, from the rampant misery? From the wanton need? Why is the very fabric of our world threaded with so much unwarranted pain and adversity?

As the fears churn inside me, as I awaken in the night tossing and turning with anxiety, my mind screams: Why? Why must it be so?


But is it not then, in my deepest moments of despair, when I feel Your abandonment most keenly, that I find myself rising to communicate with You?

Isn’t it when I feel most torn and alone that I most ardently seek You? Is it not when my anger and resentment builds that I feel Your presence most strongly, and find myself reaching for You?

Indeed, perhaps the anger highlights our closeness. Perhaps the resentment reveals the depth of our bond. Perhaps my ability to question You, to feel so intensely towards You—even if, at times, against You—shows just how much You mean to me. Perhaps it is because Your goodness is so apparent to me, because Your power and omnipotence are so real to me, that my emotions are so aroused.

And maybe that is why in my deepest moments of despair and abandonment I also feel Your comfort.

Illustration by Yudit Blesofsky
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15 Comments
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zelia Nieminen Pompano beach, Florida August 29, 2012

There are times in my life when I feel the same way, time after time I have challenges in my life. I'm 50 years old and I can count the happy days in my life. Since 2002 my husband have been ill, one illness after another, G-d heals him and them another one ..... G-d heals again and again.. Now my husband have been suffered from bladder cancer for two years, and when he suffer my daughter and I suffer too.. The more I suffer more I look to You, more I pray, more I'm doing your commandments, more I hep peoples. more I want to learn how to pleasant You, because You are the love of my life. You are everything, my soul desire for you. Nothing is going to take away what I feel for You G-d.. You Bring me hope. Though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Reply

Anonymous San Luis Obispo, CA August 29, 2012

Painful This article is painful and especially for someone held back from their faith and fighting to find it.... Reply

chana leah rego park, ny August 28, 2012

I really don't feel the comfort when I'm in pain. That is masochism. Reply

EllenLaprise Dudley, MA August 26, 2012

The Conflicted Soul I've felt this way many times, but the bottom line is this, how can we learn the depths of these emotions, without the pain. These are time of great spiritual growth for us and create who we are today.

Do I wish it had be different? Yes of course. But the Lord knows best, and it's a test of our character.

Thank you Chana! Reply

Elena Fiorellino Rome, Italy August 26, 2012

Truly beautiful and moving... Reply

Mr. Thom Ervin November 13, 2010

A very inspired article. Thank you for sharing your feelings! :) Reply

Anonymous london, england via chabadsw19.com April 27, 2007

mrs,weisberg I find it difficult to express myself, Chana has done it for me.
I suffered for two years with cancer.With G-d's help and full suport from my husband I am recoverd now.
So why did my husband have to be taken suddenly from me after 6 months?
There is no answer. Reply

Chava July 30, 2004

An amazing article. I've been going through some challenges and feeling very much in exile since I left Israel a month ago. This helps to put things in perspective. Reply

Elysa Cohen Toronto, Canada July 28, 2004

Question "And maybe that is why in my deepest moments of despair and abandonment I also feel Your comfort."

If a person truly feels God's comfort, then how deep can the feelings of despair and abandonment be? Reply

Sara Sydney, Australia July 28, 2004

Dear Mrs Weisberg Your article was yet another eloquently written piece. You seem to touch upon the essence of what is deep in all our minds and hearts. If only I could always realise and feel that HaShem has not abandoned me, even in moments of the greatest trials and distress. Reply

Judith Stefchak Anchorage, Alaska/USA July 28, 2004

Critics, Another challenge G-d sends our way.

In a few days it will be a year since my husband died and I understand exactly what Chana is writing about.

Thank you Chana for sharing your thoughts! Reply

Rabbi Nachman Bernhard Johannesburg, Soth Africa August 12, 2004

(response to comment #3) I consider Chana Weisberg's piece to be a very moving echo of the tortured dialog of doubt that carries on within many anguished souls.
Working its way painstakingly to a deeper understanding that leads to a reaffirmation of faith makes it an effective tool to be given to those who need comfort & reassurance while trying to survive their latest crisis.

To my mind, it is better that it remained general & universal, rather than getting specific & therefore irrelevant to many. Reply

Anonymous July 27, 2004

Weisberg The writing would ring truer if Mrs. Weisberg would keep to the number one rule of writing: "Show -- don't tell." It is hard for a reader, also, to identify with generalities. If her "conflicted soul" is to come across sincere, specific problems should be revealed...

One last thing. Avoid cliches like the plague! (see what i mean?) Reply

Sarah Zeldman Rochester, NY July 26, 2004

Thank you Thank you for being so honest. I love when I see frum people who are not afraid to tell the human and not-always-so-holy truth about their relationship with G-d. It makes me feel more normal! Reply

Braha Dora Shore Jerusalem July 25, 2004

What more powerful emotions can I express then to simply say, "I agree"? This article touches a raw nerve, swerves the pain in a direction of love, directs the turbulent waters towards a deeper peace, a deeper undercurrent of authenticity. Thank you, dear Mrs. Weisberg. You speak for all of us. Reply

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