Do you ever wake up feeling spiritually drained? Do life’s hardships rob you of serenity, making you feel disconnected, overwhelmed by the daily grind? Reconnecting to our spiritual side can be a real challenge.

The life of the first parents of our nation presents a powerful lesson on how to approach such times. In their advanced years, Abraham and Sara were told to leave their home and birthplace and travel to an unknown land.

G‑d appeared to Abraham (then called Abram) and said to him:

“Go from your country, and from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great.”

Characteristically, Abraham did not hesitate to obey G‑d’s command.

So Abram departed, as G‑d had spoken, and Lot went with him; Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his brother’s son, and all the possessions that they had gathered and the souls that they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to the land of Canaan.

In Canaan, G‑d promised Abraham that he will inherit this blessed, holy land.

The Hebrew word Canaan, the ancient name for the land of Israel, also means “merchant.” A merchant symbolizes wealth, bounty, opportunity. Spiritually, too, the name signifies bounty and a profound closeness to G‑d, since a wise merchant relies on G‑d for his success.

The land held great spiritual wealth for Abraham: G‑d appeared to Abram and said, “To your seed I will give this land.”

Abraham experienced a closer relationship with G‑d in Canaan, as the text continues, “There he built an altar to G‑d and called upon the name of G‑d.”

But, as happens often in our lives, a challenge appeared on the horizon. There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

Spiritually, a famine is a test of faith when our sensitivity to spirituality becomes dulled.

And it came to pass, when he came to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai, his wife, “Behold, I know that you are a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you, they will say ‘This is his wife,’ and they will kill me, but you, they will keep alive. Therefore please say that you are my sister, so that they will benefit me because of you, and my life shall be spared because of you.”

There is a metaphorical, spiritual lesson in these words.

In Canaan, a land of spiritual bounty, Abraham and Sarah lived openly as husband and wife. They cared for each other and looked out for each other as only a husband and wife can.

But then . . . there was a famine. Sarah and Abraham ended up in Egypt—Mitzrayim, in Hebrew—a name which connotes constraints and limitation. Here Abraham instructed Sarah to conceal their true relationship and to say that she is his sister.

What is the difference between a spouse and a sister on a spiritual plane? And what does this mean in our own spiritual journeys?

We don’t choose siblings. The relationship of siblings is innate, inborn and constant. Whether or not you like your brother, whether or not you love your sister, your sibling is your sibling for life. There is an underlying connection that is constant and unbreakable.

The bond with a spouse, however, is different. It is chosen and subject to change; its love is created. Two separate individuals from separate families come together as two distinct beings and unite. That’s what gives the marriage its intensity and passion, a closeness that can’t be matched by even the closest siblings.

King Solomon, in Song of Songs (5:2), speaks of the Jewish people’s relationship with G‑d as being both a sister and a wife.

Abraham’s and Sarah’s journey shows us how our relationship with G‑d can hold both elements. Their journey also teaches us how to get through times of spiritual and psychological challenge.

In the Holy Land, in Canaan, when we are in a space where we feel G‑d’s presence and bounty in our lives, G‑d is our beloved, G‑d is our spouse.

But then a famine arrives. It’s a period of scarcity and challenge; it’s a situation that tests our resolve.

The relationship becomes strained. We are no longer so connected. We don’t feel the richness, the “merchant” of Canaan any more. We are in Egypt, a place of meitzarim, limitations. All alone.

Now comes the great lesson from Abraham and Sarah—“say you are my sister.” Realize that even in moments when you feel disconnected from G‑d, from your nation, from your soul, G‑d is with you. G‑d isn’t only a spouse, but also a sibling.

We are G‑d’s people not just because we feel it, but because G‑dliness is inborn in our being. Like the bond between siblings, it may not always be overt or passionate. It may be dormant, but it is always there, constant.

We crave for a relationship with G‑d that is alive, vibrant, and passionate, like the relationship of a loving spouse. We want to feel that we’re living in the Holy Land, surrounded by spiritual blessings. When life is great, we feel the connection. Deeply.

But even when we are experiencing our personal famines, our times of meitzarim, constraints, and hardships, our relationship with G‑d still exists. It may not be as passionate, but it is still present.

And we can tap into this love and revive it. Always.