How Far Does Faith Go?

May 14th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

I was raised as a preacher’s daughter with strict Christian values and believing in faith and that God answers prayer.

I raised my daughter the same way.  I just wasn’t as strict as my father. 

My daughter wants to start her own Ice Cream/Bakery business. She has prepared her business plan and she even took a position in the same business learning everything she needed to know so when she is in place she has all the tools.

“We have a situation”…. she believes GOD is going to miraculously bring her the money she needs to open her business she has a lot of faith…and she is just praying and waiting for God to come and bring her everything she needs because right now she does not have it. All she has is faith…. What do I say to her when I raised her to believe God can do anything … and God answers prayers. 

Thank you,

Alley J.

Dear Alley J.,

It’s not quite clear to us if you are asking a business question, a parenting question or a faith question. It sounds like your daughter is taking steps to prepare herself for starting a business by working on a business plan and getting an “inside look” at a similar enterprise. It does not sound like she is putting herself in debt or behaving irresponsibly in the belief that God will guarantee her success. That is all to the good.

From what you said we are guessing that your daughter is a teenager or young adult. You seem concerned that she is not looking for investors or perhaps seeking an SBA loan but merely sitting tight, confident in getting Divine help in securing funds. It seems you may be fretting as to what will happen to her faith if those funds don’t appear.

We certainly believe that God answers prayers. We also know that God’s answers do not always align with our hopes. Part of faith, in our eyes, is accepting that God knows better than we do and that His rulings are just and best even when we don’t understand or like them. This is true for all situations, not just economic ones. Anyone who has lived for a while knows that pious people are not exempt from tragedy. Not all sick people recuperate and the world is, sadly, full of tragic victims of crimes and accidents.

It sounds to us like this may be a natural opportunity for your daughter—and perhaps for you—to develop a more mature picture of faith. Your job as a parent isn’t to undermine her faith, but rather to support her in knowing that disappointment and obstacles should not sever her faith in God. Furthermore, while we cannot succeed without His help, our own efforts do not show a lack of faith but rather a shouldering of responsibility that is part of His plan for human success.

We have done a lot of teaching on our television show, Ancient Jewish Wisdom, and in our Thought Tools, of how God brings His miracles in response to our taking the first step. We’ve addressed how the Red Sea didn’t split until Israel first walked into the water. We’ve shown how the prophet Elisha helped the widow but only after she searched and came up with the seeds of her own redemption, a tiny bottle of oil. Similarly, your daughter will see that prayer in addition to effort is far more effective than sitting around doing little except prayer.

You can certainly encourage her to continue gaining a greater understanding of business and economics in general and her own interests in particular.

Signed by two fans of both bakeries and ice-cream,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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14 comments

Carmine Pescatore says:

You find success at the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Doors of opportunity are rarely marked so she has to ask for guidance in finding it. A loan, a partnership, etc are ways.

Susan Lapin says:

What a poetic turn of phrase, Carmine. Well put.

Ruth says:

I my case your wisdom had made speechless for the present. Thank you.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Ruth.

Karen Jones says:

I agree Ruth .

Ndodana Sibanda says:

As always your answer is helpful both to her and us your readers, thank you so much

Susan Lapin says:

We do hope that we understood her question correctly. We have become more careful in writing our own pieces by realizing how easy it is to be unclear while writing.

KRISTOFA OKENTA says:

In every situation God has known what He will do billions of years ago.
Our task is to find out what we should do through the ministry of
the Holy Spirit.

Susan Lapin says:

Certainly, we all have a role that is best for us in the world and knowing what is our mission is an important life-search. Our point is that we must then put in the effort to fulfill that mission, or the steps on the way to fulfilling it.

Kevin says:

As always the value of the Rabbi’s advice is spot on. To just have “faith” and only “wait” on God without any actions on our part is unwise and rarely leads to the success we desire. So many people of faith do just that sadly. They pray for a mate, but don’t put themselves out there. They pray for a job, but lack the hustle to shake the trees and network among friends. They pray for health, but do nothing to exercise, eat right or follow doctors instructions to improve their health. This advice to do all one can do while maintaining a belief in God’s goodness, remaining full of faith, is very helpful.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Kevin,
That is exactly the syndrome we were hoping to discourage
Cordially
RDL

Brian F. Tucker says:

Dear Rabbi & Susan,
As usual your comments and advice is profitable and profound. As are the comments of your other readers. Knowing little or nothing about business, the above comments and answers reminded me of a phrase that I heard many years ago “success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get”.
Much success and happiness and success to Alley and the Lapins.
Brian T.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Brian,
That’s a good aphorism!
Cordially
RDL

James says:

Yes, like the wise virgins bringing oil to the wedding, we are expected and best advised to do our own part, as well. I am reminded of an old saying from the Second Great War (WWII): Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

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