It sounds bad, it looks bad, it smells bad, and it feels bad. The kind of bad that you’re experiencing might be small and frustrating, or full-scale traumatic.

Your five senses experience it as bad. But there’s another way to look at things—a way that can actually help turn things around and bring healing.

First, a story. There was a man by the name of Nachum Ish Gam Zu, who lived in the Holy Land where the Jews lived under RomanHe was robbed in the middle of the night rule. Nachum earned his nickname Ish Gam Zu because whenever something frustrating or difficult happened to him, he said Gam zu letovah, “This too is for the good.”

The Roman emperor at the time was cruel. The Jewish leaders strategized and planned to send a treasure chest of jewels to appease the emperor and sent Nachum Ish Gam Zu with the chest. Unfortunately, and unbeknown to him, he was robbed in the middle of the night and his chest was filled instead with heavy sand.

When he arrived, the emperor discovered that the Jews sent a chest of sand. He flew into a rage and decreed that Nachum would be executed for humiliating him. And Nachum declared: Gam zu letovah!

We are told that Elijah the prophet appeared to the emperor as an advisor and whispered to him that the sand was really miraculous, and when thrown at enemies would immediately defeat them. Lo and behold, the emperor tried the sand, and it indeed was the miraculous sort! Nachum Ish Gam Zu was sent back to the Jews with riches and a good relationship with the emperor.

What transpired here? Nachum didn’t simply say Gam zu letovah like a robot. He was aware of a deep truth. Everything that happens on earth, whether it appears good or not, occurs only because G‑d is willing it to. And everything that G‑d does is good. So even though it may not feel good or look good to the naked eye, the life force and source of what is currently happening, is G‑dly and good. What is occurring may be a test from G‑d, which may take the forms of physical or spiritual challenges, but the intent is to strengthen us spiritually. The challenge itself—just a mere messenger from G‑d—does not want us to succumb to it in despair.

But here’s the incredible thing. When you are cognizant of the source of everything occurring right now, even something that appears negative, you sweeten it. And what you actually accomplish is that seeing the source of the challenge allows the challenge to cease to exist as a challenge and transform into a positive experience.

In the ultimate form, Nachum saw that the switch from diamonds to sand was totally good, and his staunch belief actually transformed the sand and caused it to have miraculous powers.

Similarly, when we can see that our physical and spiritual challenges stem from a good G‑d and are, in fact, good, and are there to strengthen us, it is incredibly healing. We are actually able to transform the experience from something bad to something that can be experienced as good.

This is similar to a perplexing story in the Torah. The people complained about the manna, and G‑d sent venomous snakes to attack them. Moses prayed to G‑d on their behalf, and He instructed him to create a copper serpent and place it on a pole. Whoever looked up at the snake was healed. Why did they have to look up at a copper snake to get healed?

On a deeper level, it wasn’t about physicallyIt wasn't about physically looking upward looking upward. It was about recognizing that nothing has any power over anyone—not even a venomous snake—without G‑d empowering it to do so. And once the people contemplated “upward”—that the source of the snake was good—their sickness ceased to exist, and they were healed. Healing comes from recognizing that no snake can cause harm to you; it’s all orchestrated by G‑d. And when you “see through” the snake, then the snake can actually heal you.

In this sense, prayer is the key to facing and overcoming any challenges, both spiritual and physical ones. By praying with intention and contemplating how G‑d is constantly recreating the world and is good, we can influence and nullify these very challenges. For when we see them as good, they actually turn around, and really do become visibly and physically good.

But you gotta believe it to see it.

Source: From the Maamar in Likkutei Torah “Vayaas Moshe nachash nechoshet,” as explained in Chassidut Mevueret, Chapters 2 and 4.