ACHIEVING GREATNESS THROUGH HARDSHIP
“These twenty years I’ve been in your house — I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock; and you changed my wages ten times! If the God of my father, the God of Avraham, the one whom Yitz’chak fears, had not been on my side, by now you would certainly have already sent me away with nothing! God has seen how distressed I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked, and last night he passed judgment in my favor.”
To say that Ya’akov (Jacob) endured hardship, during the 20 years he worked for Lavan, would be an oversight. During this time, he was verbally assaulted, had his wages changed ten times, all the time increasing Lavan’s herds. However, Yahveh looked upon Ya’akov with kindness, providing ways for him to regain his wealth and leave his father-in-law a much better fellow, than when he arrived.
I often wonder, when I read this story in Scripture, what does this have to do with us, now, in the 21st Century? Many of us have encountered and endured hardship and adversity throughout the years. I suggest more than a few have become bitter and heart hardened as a result. However, possibly more or not as many have taken those hardship and adversities and have turned them into steppingstones in achieving their goals. Take, for example, Victor Frankl, the award-winning author who wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning”. What many people do not know about Frankl, he was imprisoned in many Nazi concentration camps, including the notorious Auschwitz Death Camp, while his wife and children were killed by the Nazis. And then there is Mark Zupan, the paraplegic paralympic gold-metal winner (wheel-chair rugby), who, after being struck by a drunk driver, has managed to star in an Oscar winning movie, Murderball, skydived and rock climbed.
Reading about these and others like them, I also wonder how God uses these hardships and adversities to shape our characters and help us achieve meaningful goals in our lives. In Psalm 34:19-20, we read of Yahveh inspiring King David to write these words – Adonai is near those with broken hearts; He saves those whose spirit is crushed. The righteous person suffers many evils, but Adonai rescues him out of them all. Then, listen to Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus’ Words, recorded in John 16:33, I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have shalom (peace and tranquility). In the world, you have tzuris (trouble). But be brave! I have conquered the world! These are comforting words to encourage all of us, who have suffered any form of hardship and adversity, which we may use to either create life-long victimhood or use to strengthen our characters to reach new goals. The choice is ours!
Beloved, clearly we are given the choice to make of our lives what we will. If we choose to be victims and wallow in self-pity, bringing others’ attention and sympathy our way, Yahveh will not work with us, to achieve new life goals. Then, when we do choose to let go of any bitterness and anger towards what has happened to us, Yahveh will support, guide and allow us to thrive in this world and to be witnesses to others of resilience, courage and determination.
Believers are those who, in their love for Yahveh and Adonai Yeshua, meet hardships head-on, deal with them and use them to catapult themselves into the world. If you are facing such an obstacle, how will you deal with it? What perspective have you chosen to adopt?
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.
 Victor Frankl, Man’s search for meaning, Simon and Schuster Inc., 1984.
 Joshua Spodek, 12 incredibly successful people who overcame adversity, https://www.inc.com/joshua-spodek/12-incredible-people-who-succeeded-despite-adversity.html.