When talking of faith, I’m often reminded of a story about a man whose ship had capsized at sea and, while struggling to stay afloat on a makeshift raft, he prayed to G-d that he be saved. Within moments of his prayer, a helicopter appeared and dropped him a ladder. He called out to the pilot, “No thanks, G-d will save me.”
Many times we mistakenly associate faith with blind naiveté. It is assumed that true belief in a supernal power requires completely setting our personal selves aside and allowing G-d to take control. Faith is sometimes interpreted as “reliance,” where we rely entirely on powers beyond us to influence our destiny.
While trusting in G-d’s absolute power is a fundamental in Judaism, it does not include neglecting our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, and our communities. Faith is not a state of mind where we’ve “given up” on the natural course of things and now seek the supernatural. It is not an excuse for one’s inexplicable, and sometimes immoral, behavior; and it is not, or at least shouldn’t be, a source of bigotry and racism.
True faith is when one wakes up in the morning believing that “today will be a good day, because today G-d will help me succeed in what I do best.” Faith is believing that G-d wants us to be productive, and when He sees us doing our part, He will in turn do His.
We cannot expect G-d to help us, if we do not help ourselves.