Whatever the All-Merciful Does Is for Good

The Talmud tells this story (in Berachot 60b):

Rabbi Akiva was once going along the road and he came to a certain town and looked for lodgings. But everywhere he went, he was refused.

He sighed and said, “Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good.”

So because he couldn’t find a place to stay in the town, he traveled out of town, into an open field, and camped out there.

Now, he had with him a rooster, a donkey, and a lamp. But during the night, a gust of wind blew out his lamp, and so he had no light, and no protection. Then a weasel came and ate his rooster, so he had no one to warn him, or to wake him when the sun rose. Then a lion attacked and killed his donkey, so he had no transportation, not even any way to get back to town.

He sighed and said, “Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good.”

Early in the morning, while Rabbi Akiva was still sleeping, a band of brigands attacked the town. They stole everything they could get their hands on and even carried off the inhabitants of the town. But they didn’t see or hear or even realize that Rabbi Akiva was there.

When he woke up and realized what had happened, he sighed and said, “Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good.”

We can’t control everything in our lives. And often our lives even wipe out spinning careening out of control. Every human has an innate sense that tells him—correctly—that this is a really bad thing. And that’s why it’s disturbing, and distressful.

But there’s a wisdom in accepting the things you can’t control, and focusing on those things that you can. Just because you feel out of control, that doesn’t mean your life is a mess. It only means that you can’t predict right now exactly what you’re going to be 10, 20, 50 years down the road. Well, welcome to the club. Sometimes it turns out that the distressful things that happen to you, they actually were blessings in disguise.