This Shabbos we read Parshas Toldos. In the Parsha we read of the life of Isaac, and of the episode of the blessings that he wanted to give to Esau being taken by Jacob. "And it was when Isaac got old and his eyes stopped seeing." (Genesis 27:1) The Torah tells us that when Isaac got old, he lost his ability to see. The Medrash says that Isaac actually asked Hashem to give him pains or afflictions. Why did Isaac ask for pains?
The Chofetz Chaim explains that all our actions are weighed on a scale. The mitzvohs, the good deeds that we do, each create an angel that acts as an advocate on our behalf. The sins that we do create angels that act as accusing voices that invoke punishment against us.
When a person is brought to judgment, all the angels that have been created by his or her deeds gather. The angels from his or her good deeds come to protect them, while the angels created from their sins come to accuse them.
The power of these angels depends how strong they are. If a mitzvah, a good deed, was done for ulterior motivation, or without full intent, then the angel created from this act that advocates for us will be weaker. Unfortunately, this is often the case. On the other hand, our sins are usually done with excitement and desire. Therefore they can be more powerful than the angels created from the good things that we have done. Even if in quantity our good deeds are equal to or surpass our sins, the sins can easily be more powerful and outweigh them. The scale thus gets tipped against us. When this happens, a person will stand shocked, and powerless to do anything about it.
However, explains the Chofetz Chaim, there is a saving factor. When this happens Hashem pulls out all the pains and afflictions that we have had in our lifetime and adds them to the scale. These are added on to the side of our good deeds and help outweigh the angels created by our sins. At that point, a person truly appreciates any pain and affliction that they may have endured in their life.
This is why Isaac asked Hashem for pain. Although we don't consider ourselves on the level of Isaac to look for pain, when it does come we have to take this lesson of the Chofetz Chaim and try to realize that one day we will realize that this truly is for our best and appreciate it.