With so many challenging things happening in the world and bad things happening to good people, it’s not unusual that questions arise as to our trust in G-d. Some may even wonder if G-d really has our best interests at heart. That’s where bitachon comes in. Bitachon is not just trust based on reason or experience as we usually think of it but rather a sense of optimism and confidence based on emunah or faith. It is trust in G-d.
Tzvi Freeman writes, “The person who holds such an attitude will always be able to point out the positive side of life’s experiences, but it’s obvious that his or her bitachon is not based on these things. It is not an attitude based on experience but one that creates experience. It says, 'things will be good because I believe they are good.'” Basically, the good in which one is so confident is already the underlying reality.
In Everyday Holiness, Alan Morinis talks about the soul as yearning to trust. “No one wants to live with anxiety and worry. When trust runs strong, life is manageable, and when trust has slipped away, life is a difficult, daunting struggle." He further contends that we have a choice in how we respond to and evaluate this world and that bitachon comes in two forms, one that G-d will look out for you like the story of the manna falling from heaven everyday, or that trust is based on attitude of acceptance.
I found this distinction very interesting and decided that I probably fall into the second camp. I believe everything happens for a reason even though it may not be clear to me at the time. That’s not always a very comforting thought as I am one that likes to know and understand “why?” and at these questioning times, there doesn’t seem to be a rational or logical answer to that question.
So why do I trust in G-d? I believe there is a reason and order behind the world and nothing happens by chance. Too many times, incidences have occurred that didn’t have an explanation and I became frustrated and anxious. I would perseverate over and over in my head what could have been different or if there was something I could have done to alter the outcome of the event. In the end, after years of operating this way, I finally came to the point where I let the incessant pondering go. I trust in G-d that he has a plan and I can’t see the whole meaning of the situation. Time will give me insight.
In Psalm 31, verse 15, when King David was fleeing from King Shaul, he writes, “I trusted and relied on You, G-d, despite all my troubles. I said, You are my G-d and You control everything. In your hand is the destiny of every moment of my life and the power to save me from the hand of my enemies and my pursuers.” Basically, what this means, according to commentary, is that people experience better times and worse times and all our experiences are in G-d’s hands.
I believe all these incidents, good and bad, are opportunities for growth and there is something for me to learn. It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word for challenge shares the same root as the word for elevate. It’s probably no coincidence because challenges help a person to grow.
The times we are experiencing now have been extremely difficult on many fronts. Seeing the pain, suffering, and unrest in our society has been saddening and confusing. So much doesn’t make sense to me.
But, I know there is something to be learned for each of us both personally and collectively. During times like this, we need to have bitachon. As my Bubby Pearl would say to me in Yiddish, “People plan and G-d laughs.” At the time that didn’t make much sense to me. However, now, her wisdom is crystal clear. She had bitachon and lived her life with this philosophy. How lucky I was to have had such a role model.
Try looking at your experiences of fear and worry as a signal to reach into your reservoir of bitachon. None of us can see the whole picture of life or how things will turn out.
As Morinis says, “our reactions to what unfolds in life are either pure speculation or just our clinging to a story we ourselves unconsciously generated. Trust is the option that stands opposite to our reactivity. We call up trust to restore the correct perspective. So in the end, there is really nothing for us to worry about.