By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
The story is told of a righteous Jew who decides that he doesn’t want to be poor any longer. He goes out to a mountaintop and prays to God.
“God, what is a thousand years to you?” he calls out.
A booming voice answers, “A thousand years is not even one second for me.”
“And, God, what are a million dollars to you?”
“All the gold and silver are mine,” the voice answers. “A million dollars is not even like one penny.”
“If that is so,” the man pleaded, “can you please send me one million dollars? I have served You my whole life.”
“Of course,” the voice answered. “I will do it. In one second.”
People of great faith know that God always comes through. But it may not be in the timeframe we like or take the form we prefer.
Biblical prophecies are deceptive. They are promises, at least the good ones are, and God absolutely keeps His promises. But they may not come true precisely how or when you expect them to. Prophecies can manifest and people may not even notice that the events unfolding are precisely what is written in the Bible.
David knew this and had a sublime approach to faith:
Truly my soul waits quietly for Hashem; my deliverance comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and deliverance, my haven; I shall never be shaken. Psalm 62:2-3
While having patience on a divine scale may be beyond the ability of the individual, the Jews have proven time and again that their faith endures for all time. God promised that he would be the father of many nations, but Abraham didn’t lose faith even though he was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. He understood that giving birth to nations takes time. The Hebrews endured 400 years in Egypt before God brought them out. The current exile has lasted 2,000 years, but when God brought the Jews back to Israel, many (though admittedly not all) stood ready to answer the call to return to the Holy Land.
Indeed, God’s salvation is assured, though waiting for it it may require a huge amount of patience. The only disclaimer is that you trust only in God.
An interesting Midrash relates to Joseph’s time in an Egyptian prison. He interprets the dreams of the baker and the wine steward, predicting the amnesty and release of the steward. Joseph requests that the steward remember him after his release. But the Torah states that the steward forgot Jospeh and he remained in prison for another two years:
“And the wine steward did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (Genesis 40:23)
The medieval commentator Rashi, quoting the Midrash [Bereishit Raba 89:3], says that Joseph remained in confinement for another two years as punishment for relying on flesh and blood for his salvation instead of putting his trust in God alone.
David instructs that when waiting for God’s providence, “Trust in Him at all times” (Psalm 62:9). Rabbi David Kimhi, the 12th-century French commentator known by the acronym Radak, explained, “No matter how long the exile endures, never give up hope, for the redemption can come suddenly at any time.”
Jewish tradition describes two possible ways the Messiah may appear; one is “in the blink of an eye” (k’heref ayin), and the other is “slowly, slowly” (kimeh kimeh). So even when salvation begins, you may not know at what pace it will happen. In fact, both traditions might be accurate. After waiting for what may seem like an interminable amount of time for God to act, the action may take place quickly. And once it does, the waiting is forgotten.
All of us face challenges, setbacks and difficulties. These challenges may seem insurmountable, and the waiting for a solution may seem never-ending. However, maintaining faith in God, trusting in His plan, and continuing to do good deeds and live a righteous life can help us navigate these difficult times.
In practical terms, this means not giving up hope, remaining positive and optimistic, and staying committed to one’s values and principles. It means continuing to do good deeds, even when the results are not immediate or apparent, and remaining steadfast in the face of adversity. It also means recognizing that while we may not always understand God’s plan, we can trust that He has our best interests at heart and will ultimately provide for us in ways we may not have expected. Never give up hope, for the redemption can come suddently, at any time.