Tenth Day of Awe: Faith

Do you have faith in God? If not, why? Does your lack of faith constitute a sin? On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish Year, the Day of Repentance, we contemplate faith.

This past summer while I as at the Aleph Kallah, author Arthur Kurzweil taught me that the “Jewish way of holiness consists of going back and forth between faith and doubt.” To me, this means that our spiritual path involves not only having constant faith in God but also doubting God and God’s ways as well. It means having faith in the Still Small Voice and our own soul’s murmurings, but also doubting their authenticity and their wisdom. It means knowing God’s hand is in everything that happens and wondering why God hasn’t stepped in to help or why God allowed certain things to happen.

On any given year, many people have reason to doubt God and to feel angry at a Divine Power who has not helped them personally, their loved ones or people around the world. These people may or may not “fall off” the spiritual path in the process. Those who do may stop believing in God. They may remain in doubt (for a long time or forever), wondering why God would allow such horrible things to happen to them and to others. They may feel God has abandonded them, especially at their time of need. Some of these doubters eventually find their way back onto the spiritual path, back to a place of faith.

Despite their circumstances, other people manage to retain their faith no matter what happens. They may believe that God never gives us more than we can handle and that everything we face in our lives make us stronger and gets us to the next place. They retain their belief in God and feel God has a presence in their lives in good times and in bad.

It’s easy to call a lack of faith a sin. It’s not. It’s simply a lack of connection to Source. It’s a desire to blame someone or something for the “bad” things that happen. It’s a need to strike out or to express negative emotions about experiences and to direct these at someone or something. It’s an expectation that God should reach out a hand into our lives and only allow “good” things to happen.

The only real sin comes in remaining unconnected from Source, for only through that connection can we truly tap into the flow of all goodness in the world-both physical and spiritual. By having faith and expressing that faith, we allow in the things we need and desire. When the physical goodness doesn’t show up when we need it, at least we have the spiritual goodness upon which to lay our heads at night. When we remember our connection to God, we remember that we have a spark of Divinity within us-our soul. This allows us to be creator and co-creators with God in our life. If we are connected to God and have faith that God’s hand is working in our lives at the same time that we feel connected to our soul’s purpose, our ability to manifest becomes strong indeed. This tends to increase the strength of our faith as well.

And this is what God wants of us: to be connected, to have faith and to allow in the goodness. (If we then give in the spirit of being “like” God-a giver-we once again connect with our Creator.) We then realize that we have a lot more control over our lives than we thought, and God plays a bigger role in it than we realized-for the good.

Yes, sometimes bad things happen. That doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our lives. God just can’t step in and change what we or others have created. God can direct us and provide opportunities-if we are spiritually connected.

For some people, though, they have to see something to believe it. When it comes to God, they might need a spiritual experience to believe in or have faith in God. However, they may just feel they’ve had too many hard knocks to believe in God any more. At this time of the year, on this last day of the 10 Days of Awe, they need to go inward and truly do the hardest t’shuvah (turning) of all. They must turn towards a God they may not belive in or trust and ask for faith from the One in whom they currently have no faith. If they can, they need to repent for their lack of faith in the simplest way possible: They need to pray, “I’m sorry I have so little faith in you, God. Please, help me find my faith again. Give me reason to have faith.”

In that moment, they also need to open themselves up. They need to go beyond their anger and hurt and remove the wall they’ve erected between themselves and God. Into the emptiness where their relationship with God once lay, they need to allow something to flow: a renewed relationship. They need to let God in. Only then can they once again find their faith. Only then can they release their doubt.

Yet, it’s hard to have faith when you feel your life is filled with reasons to doubt God. It’s difficult to have faith when you have lost your house, your job, you relationship, your parents, a loved one, your health…or when some aspect of your well being is being threatened. Whatever the reason you have given up your faith, know that just when you think it is most difficult to have faith, that’s when you must muster some anyway. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make in you and in your life.

So, as the sun lowers in the sky on Yom Kippur, as the Heavenly Gates get ready to close, and as your fate for the coming year is about to be sealed in the Book of Life, think about your degree of faith in God. Do just a bit  more t’shuvah. Turn just a bit more…

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