Thursday, December 8, 2011


This is the season of miracles.

The birth of Christ and the lights of Hanukkah remind us of miraculous events that took place so long ago and so far away. 

If you watch the news, read the papers and listen to friends and neighbors, miracles don't seem so common anymore. 

War and violence and hate are everywhere we turn.  

A common reaction to this is to ask "If G-d loves us, why do all this terrible, evil things occur?" People might wonder "If G-d is all good, why are children in Africa born HIV positive?" We question: "If G-d is present in the world, why are people discriminated against or killed because they are transgender or black or gay."

These questions are asked out of a universal human need to seek meaning behind seemingly meaningless suffering. We inquire because as people who need comfort, we will find no comfort if we were not to ask.

In the program of AA, it is suggested that if we wish to find serenity and peace, we should accept life on life's terms. Page 448 of the Big Book reads as follows:
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life --unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
When I read this, I am reminded that the G-d of my understanding wants me to have peace and abundance and happiness. But how can I have peace and abundance and happiness in a world filled with evil and greed and hate?

It seems upside down.

Then it hit me with all the force of a frying pan to the face: It is not G-d that is upside down, it is me! It is not G-d's expectations that are weird, it is my view of the world I live in!

This realization took me back to a passage in the Talmud (book of Jewish law) I read several years ago that tells the story of a rabbi whose son fell ill and was at the brink of death when his father's prayers brought him back to life. When he came to, his father asked him what he saw in heaven. The son replied: "I saw an upside-down world. Those who are on top here, are on the bottom there; and those who are here regarded as lowly, are exalted in heaven."

If we flip the question, we flip the answer.

The question to ask is not "Why is there evil in the world?" but rather "Why is there good in the world?"

There is evil in the world not because G-d doesn't love us, but rather there is good in the world because G-d loves us.

When looked at in this way, miracles become commonplace and G-d's grace becomes evident in everyday events. 

The person who finds a job after being on the street for months. 

A trip to the emergency room that turns out to be nothing to terrible. 

An alcoholic or addict who stops using, starts working the steps and begins to experience the promises

We begin to see our Higher Power working in and through these and other situations and we realize that each and every moment we are here is exactly what it is: a miracle. 

Be well, do good work and keep in touch. 

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