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Why Do We Struggle to Survive?

Why Do We Struggle to Survive?

Photo: Jean Carneiro
Photo: Jean Carneiro


If G‑d cares so much about the human race, why do we struggle so hard just in order to survive?

Life shouldn’t be so difficult!


You are grappling with issues with which the greatest human minds over thousands of years of history have grappled.

Indeed, many struggle mightily in life. Life brings all manner of challenges. Things happen, circumstances change. We think we know how things will be, but then we are given a totally unexpected situation. There is much in life we can’t control. And, much as we’d like to insist on knowing why, we will never have an answer to that. Only G‑d knows. No one else can speak for Him.


We want our questions answered: Why is there evil in the world? Why do good men and women suffer? Why do children die of hunger or disease? Why are there earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes that destroy human lives?


Could anyone really venture an answer? And would that someone then be equivalent to G‑d? And were we to be given answers to satisfy the human mind, would we then judge G‑d, be on par with Him?

I wish I had answers.

But if I did, what would be the nature of faith?

Faith is a most basic component of human living, of our psyche, of our ability to cope with all that happens around us. And could there be a concept of faith if we had hard evidence of G‑d’s dominion in our lives?

What We Control

We don’t have control over circumstances in our lives, but we do have full control over our responses to any given circumstance. G‑d gave us the free will to control our own actions and responses.

How to respond to life’s difficulties? Well, now, that’s a question any one of us can indeed answer.

See How Do You Get Faith? from our selection on the Jewish take on Faith.

Bronya Shaffer
for The Judaism

Mrs. Bronya Shaffer is a noted globetrotting lecturer on Jewish women's issues, and serves as a personal counselor and mentor for women, couples and adolescents. Mrs. Shaffer, a responder for’s Ask the Rabbi service, lives with her ten children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
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Discussion (13)
September 24, 2016
money happiness
why is it that we need money in order to be happy? For money is needed to buy food, clothes, and so forth...but there is more to life then that. I thought evidently not.
July 23, 2014
no struggle no gain, a life that end has not ended if you know the creator. Stay positive...I lost my job and now I own my own business, at the time I couldn't see anything good, yet it all worked out in the end.
Darrell Jackson
high point, c
July 7, 2014
Have F.A.I.T.H
October 12, 2013
Ask your government. Why is it so hard to survive . Ask the ones grossing millions off dollars while you are not. (To be alive )breathing and eating is a struggle.)
Darrell Austin
November 8, 2011
being here
People ask why I write so much on Chabad, and I think it has to do with survival, in terms of how we see meaning in life, why we are here. I follow my heart in what I do, in a conscious manner. When I feel gifted something to communicate, as in reading a wonderful article that moves me, or does not, I have the impulse to share my feelings with others. Sometimes I have something I want to teach, and at other time, it is in response to what I learn from others.

I think we go to books and printed material to learn we're not alone. It is a deep human need that powers us all, that involves education and opening our eyes to the world.

Why survive? Because there is something of wonder here, that makes it all worthwhile.
It could be an early rose dawn with fluffy white white clouds, or the bluest eye of a morning glory. Whatever it is, we rejoice, and we love to share this. An impulse to share.

It's being on the net in many ways. We are webbed together. This is a weave. Braids, in fashion.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
November 5, 2011
Speaking for G-d!
Our parents gave us life. Do we have the right to hassle them with every pity little or big problems that we have? A boss give us tasks, do we show them that we are incompetent or do we performed to the best of our ability? Speaking for G-d is how we have gain knowledge of life lessons and the wisdom that came with it.
I see struggle all around me and in my own house, how we survive it all, is beyond miracle, which makes me believe that G-d see it all.
Boca Raton, Florida
November 1, 2011
Bonnie's wisdom & the Bulb lady
Hi, I struggled to understand what you wrote but it eluded me.

Maybe we use words but have different meanings for them. When I say we can all speak for G_d I am saying I think it's possible for people to speak in loving terms and to act in this way. I am inclusive in this.

My journey is as it is, and I experience life my way, and people do have very different ways of perceiving life. I do believe diversity is the key, because we add something to each other. Nobody can achieve another's experience so we identify through empathy, and that is why a really good movie, can be transformative, because at least for that short period of time, we become the actor or actress in the drama, and we go through the journey with them, as if we are, them.

I believe we read to realize we are not alone and dialogue also brings us together in this way. We share, often share, similar ways of incorporating life's difficulties, and also joys.

An awl is used to plant bulbs, another kind of awl.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
November 1, 2011
ruth housman
I am in harmony with your words of harmony.
Well said.

It is important to understand that not 'all' are gifted to speak for G-d. This is very important. Very important.
I have spent a hard, terrible time...a long time, learning about the 'all'. It is not so.
Never, but never think that way and thereby your journey will be a whole lot easier.
Today, there is no 'all' in my mind anymore. I have found out that this is wisdom.
October 31, 2011
why do we struggle?
so very late; i apologise but i just read your very moving & thought-provoking article Mrs.Shaffer; this question has probably troubled most people since time immemorial.
i enjoyed going through your essay; thanks.
Reuben Coutinho
goa, india
October 30, 2011
Why we suffer
Sometimes we suffer because we have made bad decisions, and we are getting the consequences of those bad choices.

Everybody will suffer, good or bad, in some way if they live long enough.

How we handle that suffering shows to a great extent the material we are made of...and when we survive the ordeal, faith intact, we are better people as a result.

G_d knows what we need to do in order to be the best people we can be. Look at Job.
There was "stuff" going on behind the scenes that Job did not see, nor his friends.
But in the end Job was stronger and life was better.
Prescott, AR/US