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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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Anonymous Kentucky 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. Reply

Darrell Jackson high point, c 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. Reply

Yamin July 7, 2014

Have F.A.I.T.H Reply

Darrell Austin 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.) Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma 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. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, Florida 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. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma 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. Reply

Bonnie 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.

Reuben Coutinho goa, india 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. Reply

Anonymous Prescott, AR/US 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. Reply

Bonnie October 26, 2011

It is true that life can be hard and very much a struggle. Most of us know of this experience.

The why of it is never really fully understood. But one thing I have come to understand. That is...that it is the fastest way possible to reach the end goal. It is blindingly fast compared to any other method considered. It is also the most worthwhile method, producing the most excellent results.
It is Wisdom in Motion. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 25, 2011

no one can speak for G_d But we all do. The real question is, who truly speaks for G_d? Is it the voices that are brutal and cruel, or those that speak of love and injustice and equality around the world?

The earn in discern, or the ashes? We are here to think, to find G_d? To unearth truth.
The hidden well spring. This water.

I think it's clear there are voices that do speak for G_d and that the gift of true oratory, is putting heart and soul into words that take flight and energize others to do works of tikkun.

I meet G_d everyday, in the voice of wind and willow, in a child's innocent wonder, and in song, that rises from the heart. Somewhere a violin is playing, a string is plucked, and joy rises with promise in the midnight air.

I hear the voice of G_d wherever I go, and I say, those who speak for love, who bring passion that is support, who bear witness, who hunger for learning from diversity, who shake hands with each other, that drum beat, is G_d.

Yes, I think we're all gifted to speak for G_d. Reply

Feigele Brisbane, Australia September 5, 2011

G-d gave us life, its up to us to make it... This is a critical issue for which regrettably this story isn’t giving us much moral support and facts why we struggle so much in this life.
Indeed it is a challenging life with multitude hardships and we need lots of Chutzpa if we want to survive day after day. We are put to the test, are we going to make it or break down, if we are to survive we can’t give up every time we encounter a difficulty, so we have to keep going knowing that life is constantly changing and testing us. G-d gave us life and it’s up to us to make it through ‘til the end. Is there a reward for making it without deteriorating? maybe some incentives coming our ways but also a satisfaction that we tried our best and were able some times to survive, not for everyone though, some don’t have the choice but to endure what comes their ways. Lucky are the ones who get the chances to modify circumstances to their benefit. such is life on this planet and our faith in G-d takes us another step forward. Reply