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Tests and difficulties are a part of everyone's life whether we like it or not. If, however, we approach them with the understanding that God sends us tests and difficulties for our own sakes, to benefit us spiritually, as is pointed out in the Arabic Hidden Word # 51 which follows, they will be easier to bear. Indeed, if we look for and can recognize the "light and mercy" contained in these calamities with which we are afflicted, it will be easier to get through the seeming "fire and vengeance" part of them, and to even be thankful for the test which yielded that "light and mercy".
"O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and
vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou
mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto
thee, do thou observe it."
Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh tells us to "Hasten thereunto" and that, by doing so, we can "become an eternal light and an immortal spirit." Isn't that worth a little pain and trouble?
In the next three Hidden Words, observe how Bahá'u'lláh associates love with trials, tribulation and adversity.
"O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is
fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials."
[Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A48.]
"O SON OF MAN! The true lover yearneth for tribulation even as doth the rebel for forgiveness and the sinful for mercy." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A49.]
"O SON OF MAN! If adversity befall thee not in My path, how canst thou walk in the ways of them that are content with My pleasure? If trials afflict thee not in thy longing to meet Me, how wilt thou attain the light in thy love for My beauty?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A50.]
As you can see, trials, tribulation and adversity also enable us to show our love in "fortitude" and "patience" and to show that we are "content with" His "pleasure." After all, it is easy to show love and contentment when things are going well for us. It is through affliction that we can show our true devotion and dedication to God.
As you can see from the next Hidden Word presented below, # 55 from the Arabic, some tests can even seem pleasant on the outside, such as wealth. Don't be overconfident, though, thinking that this may be a reward and not a test at all. Bahá'u'lláh tells us straight out that this, too, is a test. He says: "with gold We test Our servants."
"O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test
the gold, and with gold We test Our servants." [Bahá'u'lláh,
The Hidden Words, No. A55.]
Indeed, we will all be "tested by "the divine Assayer," and we want to be of those "accepted." It would be greatly to our detriment to be one of those "SEEMING FAIR YET INWARDLY FOUL" people addressed by Bahá'u'lláh in Persian Hidden Word # 25, which is presented next.
"O YE SEEMING FAIR YET INWARDLY FOUL! Ye are like clear but bitter water,
which to outward seeming is crystal pure but of which, when tested by the
divine Assayer, not a drop is accepted. Yea, the sun beam falls alike upon the
dust and the mirror, yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from
the earth: nay, immeasurable is the difference!"
[Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P25.]
Bahá'u'lláh again mentions how our deeds will be tested by "the assayers of mankind" and tells us the only ways they will be accepted in the following two Hidden Words.
"O MY FRIENDS! Quench ye the lamp of error, and kindle within your hearts
the everlasting torch of divine guidance. For ere long the assayers of mankind
shall, in the holy presence of the Adored, accept naught but purest virtue and
deeds of stainless holiness." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden
Words, No. P35.]
"O CHILDREN OF ADAM! Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favor at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored One, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the daystar of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P69.]
Suggested Topics for Discussion:
-- Discuss what the "test" may be in "gold"
-- Discuss the relationship of tests and difficulties to our love for God
-- Discuss how people's conceptions of what constitutes a "test" can differ
-- Discuss how one's whole life can be a test and how we find out whether or not we passed
I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose. --The Báb [The Báb, Bahá'í Prayers, 1982 ed. p. 29.]
"O SON OF MAN! Many a day hath passed over thee whilst thou hast busied
thyself with thy fancies and idle imaginings. How long art thou to slumber on
thy bed? Lift up thy head from slumber, for the Sun hath risen to the zenith,
haply it may shine upon thee with the light of beauty."
[Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A62.]
"O SON OF MAN! The light hath shone on thee from the horizon of the sacred Mount and the spirit of enlightenment hath breathed in the Sinai of thy heart. Wherefore, free thyself from the veils of idle fancies and enter into My court, that thou mayest be fit for everlasting life and worthy to meet Me. Thus may death not come upon thee, neither weariness nor trouble." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. A63.]
In the Hidden Words, Bahá'u'lláh also gives us some specific issues in which we may have a tendency to involve in our fancy or imagination, issues such as "gold" and our own "negligence," as is demonstrated in the two Hidden Words presented next. He says:
"O SON OF MAN! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it.
Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy
sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My knowledge, and that is thy fancy;
how can My way accord with thine?" [Bahá'u'lláh, The
Hidden Words, No. A56.]
"O DWELLERS IN THE CITY OF LOVE! Mortal blasts have beset the everlasting candle, and the beauty of the celestial Youth is veiled in the darkness of dust. The chief of the monarchs of love is wronged by the people of tyranny and the dove of holiness lies prisoned in the talons of owls. The dwellers in the pavilion of glory and the celestial concourse bewail and lament, while ye repose in the realm of negligence, and esteem yourselves as of the true friends. How vain are your imaginings!" [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P23.]
In the next two Hidden Words presented, we are warned against "satanic fancies". Wouldn't it be better and more profitable for us to instead "fly to the realms of mystic holiness"?
"ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE! Even as the swiftness of
lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on
satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth.
Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath
have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the
meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the
Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even
as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of
desire and passion." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words,
"O SON OF DESIRE! How long wilt thou soar in the realms of desire? Wings have I bestowed upon thee, that thou mayest fly to the realms of mystic holiness and not the regions of satanic fancy. The comb, too, have I given thee that thou mayest dress My raven locks, and not lacerate My throat." [Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, No. P79.]
In the last Hidden Word presented on this subject, # 29 from the Persian, we are told of the many gifts and bounties with which we are showered, and told how, because of our "idle imaginings," we became "wholly forgetful, and, turning away from the portals of the Friend didst abide within the courts of My enemy."
"O SON OF BOUNTY! Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My
command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in
existence and the essence of all created things. Thus, ere thou didst issue
from thy mother's womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes
to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee. Out of My loving-kindness, 'neath
the shade of My mercy I nurtured thee, and guarded thee by the essence of My
grace and favor. And My purpose in all this was that thou mightest attain My
everlasting dominion and become worthy of My invisible bestowals. And yet
heedless thou didst remain, and when fully grown, thou didst neglect all My
bounties and occupied thyself with thine idle imaginings, in such wise that
thou didst become wholly forgetful, and, turning away from the portals of the
Friend didst abide within the courts of My enemy."
Suggested Topics For Discussion:
--Discuss how idle fancies and vain imaginings can veil a person from
--Discuss how idle fancies and vain imaginings can lead to negligence
--Discuss the harm that has been done in the world due to the idle fancies and vain imaginings of people who hold a position of power
O God, my God! Thou art my Hope and my Beloved, my highest Aim and Desire! With great humbleness and entire devotion I pray to Thee to make me a minaret of Thy love in Thy land, a lamp of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures, and a banner of divine bounty in Thy dominion.
Number me with such of Thy servants as have detached themselves from everything but Thee, have sanctified themselves from the transitory things of this world, and have freed themselves from the promptings of the voicers of idle fancies.
Let my heart be dilated with joy through the spirit of confirmation from Thy kingdom, and brighten my eyes by beholding the hosts of divine assistance descending successively upon me from the kingdom of Thine omnipotent glory.
Thou art, in truth, the Almighty, the All-Glorious,the All-Powerful. --'Abdu'l-Bahá ['Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 ed., pp. 57-58.]
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