I am the rabbi of Beit Hashofar synagogue in south Seattle and co-founder of Riverton Mussar.
Once, the Baal Shem Tov went to spend Shabbat in Polnoye, the hometown of his student, the "Toldot", Rabbi Yaacov Yosef of Polnoye. The Baal Shem Tov was traveling in quite a fancy carriage and a resident of the town, a well known instigator, used the opportunity to disparage the Baal Shem Tov for what he deemed unwarranted opulence.
The scene is years ago in Israel shortly after the second destruction. The great sage and Holy saint Rebbe Elezar (the son of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai; grand master Kabbalist and author of the Zohar) was walking with his holy friends in an open field discussing deep mystical secrets found in some sentence of the Torah. It was a very hot day and they were pleasantly surprised when they came upon a remarkably beautiful spot carpeted with flowers and shaded by gracious trees.
God's final test for Avraham was the most unsettling of all the 10 tests. God's request that Avraham sacrifice his son and give up his future went against the most fundamental traits in his personality. What was Avraham known for? Radical hospitality. Our tradition teaches us that he and Sarah were the embassadors of kindness among all the people they sojourned with. Of our ancestors, he and Sarah were the embodiment of chesed (kindness). The tragedy of Avraham and Sarah's life was that until an old age, they had no children through which they could plant seeds of kindness into the world. When God opened Sarah's womb and brought the miraculous birth of Isaac, Avraham's lifetime of service and faithfullness to the one true God met its reward.
So often we get caught up in the torrents of life, being tossed this way and that by everyday events. This has a bad effect on the tranquility of our soul. We become unsettled and unfocused. Our perspective and clarity are drawn to only the drama of the present moment and we lose vision of the big picture of life. Our goal is to rise above these events and have a sense of wide perspective at all times. By imagining the “big picture” of each life event, we gain a peacefulness of the mind and soul.