Someone once came to Rebbe Nachman, complaining about how bitter his life was. This man wanted to draw closer to G-d and mend his ways, but each time he tried, the temptations grew stronger and stronger. Days turned into weeks and years and he had still not managed to better himself in his devotions to G-d. The Rebbe tried to encourage him, but to no avail. The man just kept bemoaning his fate. The Rebbe then said to him, “Seeing that all is bad, it’s clear that I have no one to talk to!” At this the man grew excited and said to Rebbe Nachman, “But I do try! I do make attempts to change myself. I’m not totally bad.” Hearing this, the Rebbe said to him, “Aha! Now make use of the lesson AZAMRA, Likutei Moharan I: 282.”
It was Rebbe Nachman’s intention that the person say that all was not lost; that he still had a desire to change his ways. Feeling distant from G-d, a person begins to think that one might never succeed. By challenging all of us in the same way he challenged this man, the Rebbe forces us to acknowledge that we still do have some good points. Once this is established, we are all capable of going forward (Tzaddik 569).
Adapted from Crossing the Narrow Bridge, by Chaim Kramer