Weekly Devotions 286 – Making good choices

MAKING GOOD CHOICES by Raphael ben Levi

The 18th-century Jewish sage, Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said: “There are two kinds of sorrow and two kinds of joy. When a person broods over his misfortunes when he cowers in a corner and despairs of help—that is a bad kind of sorrow, concerning which it is said, ‘The Shechinah glory does not dwell in a place of dejection.’ The other kind of sorrow is the honest grief of a man who knows what he lacks. The same is true for joy. One who is devoid of inner substance and, in the midst of empty pleasures, neither feels that, nor tries to fill his lack, is a fool. However, a person who is truly joyful is like a man whose house has burned down, who feels his need deep in his soul and begins to build anew. Over every stone that is laid, his heart rejoices.”

Every person has a God-shaped vacuum which cannot be filled by any substitute however legitimate or praiseworthy it may be. What then is this ‘inner substance’ referred to by the sage that will fulfil our craving for true peace and wholeness accompanied by rivers of joy? Is it a work in progress in the here and now that is always just out of reach of experiencing its absolute fullness? Perhaps a little of both? Nonetheless, we need to be travelling in the right direction and many people are deeply offended by the bold claims of Scripture which make it very clear that Yeshua alone is the solution to the ‘pollution.’ He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one can come to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6) However, at the end of the day we need to make our choice and may God give you the grace to choose well. Let’s not forget that the Shechinah glory does not dwell in a place of dejection but in the honest grief of a person who recognises what he lacks and reaches out in the right direction for help.

Maybe, your house has ‘burned down’ and you need to start over? With what foundation will you build with? The Bible states that many people do so with ‘wood, hay and stubble’. Yet, the precious elements characterising a person’s life, symbolised metaphorically in Scripture as ‘‘silver, gold and precious jewels,’ can only be forged in the furnace of affliction. The quality of our lives is appropriated through the materials we choose to build with.