In Baha'i faith, troubles are just steps on the journey to God
Thursday, December 21, 2000
By LINDSAY GARCIA
Sorrows and difficulties are inevitable for all people. Depression is easy to fall into, especially during a time of year so focused on holidays.
Yet with reliance, trust, and praise, the soul must strive to pass its tests and find calamity to be a means to an end of love, faith, and joy.
The Baha'i faith stresses the importance of not allowing troubles to burden the soul. Baha'i writings from prophet-founder Bah'u'llah, his forerunner, the Bab, and his son, 'Abdu'l-Baha, reveal the importance of remaining steadfast in our love for God.
"Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you." (Gleanings from the Writings of Bah'u'llah)
The writings describe difficulties not as punishments but as steps on the path to God. "Thou wilt never cause tribulations to befall any soul unless thou desirest to exalt his station in thy celestial paradise" (Selections from the Writings of the Bab).
A troubled person is actually a soul being beckoned by God's loving light, a call for the soul's attention to God's ultimate plan. While it is hard to accomplish during the low points in life, as believers in God we are to "never be depressed. The more ye are stirred by violation, the more deepen ye in firmness and steadfastness." (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha).
When calamities hit, it is important to turn toward God for solace and comfort. We are never to forget our goal to follow God. "Be thou neither grieved nor despondent over what hath come to pass. This trouble overtook thee as thou didst walk the path of God, wherefore it should bring thee joy." ('Abdu'l-Baha). Each moment of sadness that we conquer is another brick laid in the foundation of our journey toward God. Such an accomplishment could never be cause for misery.
It is easy to declare a belief in God, but as with any responsibility, there are tests. Troubles are the tests that identify the steadfast "so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns." (Bah'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan).
Like diligent students after many hours of preparation, believers are eager to pass the test of sorrow. The tests can be intimidating and sometimes overpowering, but with time the student adapts and demonstrates the lessons that have been learned. The more tests that befall us, the more solid our faith becomes, and the closer we get to our home with God.
In times of ease and comfort, it is easy to forget God offers us an eternal paradise. "Do not grieve at the afflictions and calamities that have befallen thee. All calamities and afflictions have been created for man so that he may spurn this mortal world -- a world to which he is much attached. When he experienceth severe trials and hardships, then his nature will recoil and he will desire the eternal realm -- a realm which is sanctified from all afflictions and calamities." ('Abdu'l-Baha).
It is easy to become attached to our lives and our daily surroundings. God promises us a celestial home if we follow in his path. Tribulations serve to remind us that this world is not our final destination. The soul's yearning to find its true home becomes stronger and stronger, to the point where anything else is unacceptable.
In times of physical illness, we seek physicians to treat the body's ailments. In times of sadness and despondence, we should seek the soul's physician to treat our loneliness with the words of healing and life.
"Let not thine heart grieve over what hath befallen thee. Wert thou to scan the pages of the Book of Life, thou wouldst, most certainly, discover that which would dissipate thy sorrows and dissolve thine anguish." (Bah'u'llah).
The treatment takes time, but little by little, the soul heals. God provides the light to guide our path. With our eyes turned toward our eternal palace and our hearts receptive to the love that he radiates, all things, pleasant or not, will surely turn into joy.
Lindsay Garcia is a teacher at the Wilhelm Baha'i School, Teaneck.
©Copyright 2000, Bergen Record Corp.