Daily Devotional

Trusting God in Tough Times

April 30, 2014 - 5:00 am

This Devotional's Hebrew Word


“Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” — Leviticus 23:42–43

The Torah portion for this week is Emor, which means “speak,” from Leviticus 21:1–24:23, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 44:15–31.

Leviticus 23 takes us through the Jewish festivals of the year. However, as we read through the chapter, one festival seems out of place. All the holidays are celebrated during the time of year that the events they commemorate first occurred. But Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is an exception. While Sukkot is connected to the Exodus story, it is celebrated in the autumn instead of in the spring, when the Exodus actually happened. Why?

The Sages explain that if Sukkot was celebrated in the spring, we might miss the point of the holiday. In Israel, springtime means mild weather and the end of the rainy season. It would be easy to go out and live in makeshift huts for a week under those conditions. And that’s precisely the problem.

The whole point of Sukkot is to remember God’s protection of the Israelites in the harsh conditions of the desert. The message of Sukkot is that God alone runs the world and that He can protect us from all harm. In the autumn, with the onset of cooler temperatures and rainier conditions, most people in the world return indoors to the comfort of their homes after enjoying the summer months outdoors. It is exactly at this time that the Bible commands us to go outside and to live in our vulnerable, makeshift homes. It is only when we are exposed to the possibility of harm and discomfort that our faith can truly shine.

A story is told about a mountain climber who wanted to climb the world’s highest mountain. He climbed well into the darkness of night until suddenly he slipped. As he fell into the dark abyss, he was sure that he would die. Suddenly, he felt a jolt. He had used pitons and a long rope tied around his waist to stake himself to the mountain, and the pitons had held. As he dangled helplessly in the darkness hanging onto the rope, he cried out to God, “Please help me!” God spoke to the man and said, “Do you really believe that I can save you?” “Yes,” said the man. “Then cut the rope,” said God. The man was afraid, and rather than cutting the rope, he clung to it throughout the night. The next day he was found frozen to death, suspended just two feet above a very wide ledge and safety.

The fact that Sukkot occurs in the autumn reminds us that the times when we are most vulnerable are when we most need to have faith in God. It’s nice to believe in God when things are going well for us. But when times are tough and we are very afraid, we must trust Him all the same. Unlike the doomed mountain climber in the story, we need to let go of the ropes and hang on to God.


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