You Won a House!

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People enduring hardship and pain may feel that Hashem doesn't care about them. They cry out in prayer, but things don't change. They take upon themselves to do extra Mitzvot, yet their situation doesn't improve. If a person lacks a proper understanding of Hashem, these situations could lead a person to want to stop praying and improving.

First, we must understand that if someone is experiencing pain, it doesn't mean Hashem doesn't love him. On the contrary, the Pasuk states:"את אשר יאהב ה' יוכיח"-Pain is brought upon those who Hashem loves most. As hard as it is to comprehend, the hardships accomplish so much. The Midrash says that Hashem is closest to those who suffer hardships. Rabbenu Yonah in his Sha'are Teshuva writes that suffering is actually one of a person's achievements in his lifetime. To put this into perspective, imagine a person would compile a list of his life accomplishments and milestones. He would probably include his wedding day, the day his children were born, the day he was promoted at work, the day he was elected president of an organization or the day he finished a certain Masechet. However, if his times of suffering are not on the list, it is incomplete. Pain endured in this lifetime is one of life's achievements. If it is accepted with love, then it may be one of life's greatest achievements. So if your painful situation has not changed yet, do not feel like you are abandoned. You are very loved and Hashem is very near.

With regard to our prayers, we must understand the value of the prayer itself. If the person didn't get the answer he was looking for from his prayer, he should not stop. Don't feel bad. Each prayer was infinitely valuable in and of itself. Rabbi Lugassi explains this concept using a parable. Imagine a raffle in which the first prize was a brand new house, and the second prize was a new car. The tickets were very expensive. Most bought only one ticket and others even bought two. The drawing was held and the winners were picked. A member of the committee had the privilege to call the winners and share the good news. He called the winner of the house and told him what he won. However, instead of hearing the expected scream of joy on the line, it sounded as though the man was upset. "Didn't you hear what I just said? You won a house! Why are you upset?" The man responded, "Yeah, I heard you. But I bought two tickets. I didn't win the car also?" That is a ridiculous response from the winner of the first prize.

If a person was praying, let's say for a Shiduch, and each prayer was from the bottom of his heart, and he felt as though he was connecting directly with Hashem, even if he didn't yet get the Shiduch, he has still won the first prize. The value of connecting with Hashem and realizing that only He can fulfill our requests is enormous. Never feel that a prayer was wasted. If somebody has inclinations to complain, give up and stop praying, but he overcomes that reaction and strengthens himself to continue trying, then he got the first prize בהדור גדול-with all of the trimmings.

The same is true with regard to the extra Mitzvot we take upon ourselves, even though we have not yet been answered. The Gemara says that someone who gives Tzedaka in order to merit a yeshua is considered to be completely righteous at that moment. Tosafot explain that he is considered a Tzadik, because even if he does not get what he wants, he will still be happy with the knowledge that he did a good deed. Deep down we know the enormous value of every Mitzva we perform. This world does not contain enough pleasures for Hashem to pay us back for even one of them. If a person accepted upon himself to do a certain Mitzvah because of a difficult situation he was in, doing that Mitzva was the first prize. What he wanted to get out it is the second prize. Never feel bad about winning the first prize. We pray to have all of our needs fulfilled, but until we see the results we want, if we view Hashem with the proper perspective, it will make us happy and enable us to continue serving Him, no matter what.

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