It’s an uphill climb…
I know where I’m goin’ cause I know where I’ve been…
I can start living now…
You can’t deny the truth, cause I’m the living proof…”
Excerpted from “The Living Proof,” theme song from the movie: The Help
The failure of a business, a family setback, the rebuilding of a reputation; being
called upon to alleviate the suffering of another, or alter a reality that must be
changed – are all tests or trials. All involve the challenge to step beyond yourself
and do something you never imagined you had the strength to do. Sometimes a test
forces you to step up; to right a wrong, and sometimes it seems to be about others,
yet places great demands on you.
For thousands of years, scholars have struggled with the concept of trials/tests.
Are the extreme challenges we experience good? Are they rewards or are they
Are the trials we face — such as extended periods of difficulty and pain; the
demand to deal with something that frightens us or something that brings great
risks — happening to us because we’ve done something right or because we’ve
done something wrong?
The term in Hebrew for test or trial is: nisayon. Nisayon has, as its root, the
word “ness” which means miracle. It also incorporates the word “nasa” which
means to uplift, to raise, or to carry.
Maimonides (Rambam) writes about the concept of nisayon and affords great
insight with the following as its foundation:
1. G-d is just and compassionate, and life is overwhelmingly good.
2. There is no punishment without sin..
Punishment, when due, is largely reserved for the world of reward — not this
Based on the following, Rambam explains the role of tests/trials in our lives and
provides several life building insights. His main point is:
The overarching purpose of a test/trial is for a person to claim his identity; to
The result of a successful test or trial is:
a. A person becomes himself, with
b. The experience and understanding to build on what he’s learned, and
c. Permanently become the person he was tested to be.
In a very practical way, when emerging from his test, the person becomes “the
living proof” of who he is and what can be achieved.
As was so beautifully expressed in the theme song of the important and wonderful
movie The Help:
A test or trial is always a very long journey, and the climb is all uphill. When it’s
over you’ll know where you’re going because you’ll know where you’ve been. You
can then start living the life that is most truly yours. And from that point, forever,
neither you, nor anyone else, will be able to deny the truth, because you will have
become the living proof.
So whether you’re the greatest of men–establishing the direction of humanity, a
maid in the deep South in the 1960’s, like Aibileen and Minny, or you, or me — the
tests/trials life brings are neither rewards nor punishments, nor are they arbitrary.
Our tests and trials are so that we tear muscle to build muscle; so that we become
the living proof — most importantly to ourselves, but to those around us as well —
of who we must be.
As Aibileen (Viola Davis) the maid said so well, at a critical point in the
movie: “Writing down the story is no different from writing down my prayers.”
And as the movie comes to an end, she quips: “My son always said someone in the
family was going to be a writer…”
Become the living proof. Be courageous and triumph!