On Tuesday, November 17th, our city, Spokane, Washington, experienced a huge windstorm such as we’ve never seen. The beautiful Ponderosa pine trees that adorn our streets and yards suddenly became tools of destruction, snapping like twigs, falling on our homes and cars and creating havoc.

The Baal Shem Tov, the first Chassidic master, taught that everything one sees or hears can provide a life lesson. With that profound approach, every challenging moment can become an opportunity for growth.

Sitting in the dark and cold, unable to read, much less use the computer or even text too much as a result of the power outage, I had a lot of time to think, and I learned some powerful lessons from the crisis.

The Power of a Good Deed

As I stepped out into the night to share some supplies with a neighbor, I was overcome by an unfamiliar darkness. I was surprised by how powerful my little flashlight was, slicing through the thick blackness that surrounded me. That’s when I remembered what the wisest of all men, King Solomon, wrote: “. . . The advantage of light [which comes] from the darkness.”1 In the absolute darkness, light is all the more powerful and appreciated. Even a small light dispels much darkness.

In life, we are sometimes confronted with extreme darkness. The senseless hatred that the world endures seems endless. And we ask ourselves, What can we little people do? We have no say in world events! How can we make a difference? Think of the little light. Our acts of goodness and kindness, though they seem small, can have a huge effect and brighten our world. So I ask you, when you are confronted with evil—even just reading about it in the news—go and do something good. Let’s light up the world, one good deed at a time.

Reach the Stars

Then I looked up to the sky and saw it filled with stars—a spectacular night sky that I have never seen in Spokane. The darkness that enveloped everything allowed the stars to shine brightly and clearly. A powerful thought flashed through my mind: It’s during those dark moments in our lives, when uncertainty reigns, that we are able to persevere, regardless of the darkness that envelops us. And that is when we can reach the stars—reach heights never before imagined. So the next time you hit a rough spot in your life, remember that this can be an opportunity for you to reach the stars.

Show You Care

I returned to the dark and cold house, turned on my phone and looked for messages. I texted my friends to see how they were doing, and many of my friends offered to help me out. At that moment, I learned another invaluable lesson: When your friend is going through some sort of crisis, show that you care. Your love and care may be worth a million times more than what you can or cannot actually do to alleviate the problem. The offer “If you need anything, please let me know” meant the world to me, though there was little my friends could do. So the next time your friend goes through a crisis, ask him how he’s doing and offer to help. Show that you care.

The Price of Arrogance

During the storm, a huge tree fell on the edge of my neighbor’s house. I went to check it out. I couldn’t believe this gigantic tree of 100 feet or more fell like a twig. It was the tall trees that fell, not the small ones. Likewise, it’s the arrogant and haughty who tend to get hurt in life—they tend to crash more often. Arrogance comes with a big price.

Empathy

Over the next couple of days, we became virtually homeless. Our house was uninhabitable—cold and dark. We needed to move out and find a hotel, but even that was difficult—we had to go from hotel to hotel to find a vacancy. Suddenly, I felt like a refugee. Now, when I read about refugees, I understand to a small degree how it feels to be homeless. I was taught empathy. So the next time you see someone in need, please help him.