Posted by Brett Zamir (184.108.40.206) on August 13, 2002 at 17:27:00:
In Reply to: Abdu'l Baha Ordains; His Words Poetically Questioned posted by Simcha Ben Yehuda on August 12, 2002 at 07:24:37:
I enjoyed your heartfelt prose.
First of all, it might help to see that the Baha'i Writings vision of a bright future do not apply--except in confined circles--to the society as a whole in the present time.
The references to a glorious future refers to a process which will eventually culminate in the distant future to the Baha'i "Golden Age". Of course even then our Writings tell us that this world will never adequately reflect the glorious of the Kingdom in Heaven. But as to hope for the here-and-now, those of us blessed to have awareness of His Revelation are encouraged to take pleasure in that we DO have a knowledge of where we are going and have a means to be protected in some measure from the follies of a heedless society (if we obey) (though we are not to have our motivation in avoiding the suffering of our fellow human beings except perhaps to the degree that we can be of better service), and be inspired with our being preoccupied in His service.
Those writings which confirm that God "understands" include the statement of 'Abdu'l-Baha in Promulgation of Universal Peace, confirming some of your sentiments:
"Man needlessly kills a thousand fellow creatures, becomes a hero and is glorified through centuries of posterity. A great city is destroyed in one day by a commanding general. How ignorant, how inconsistent is humankind! If a man slays another man, we brand him as a murderer and criminal and sentence him to capital punishment, but if he kills one hundred thousand men, he is a military genius, a great celebrity, a Napoleon idolized by his nation. If a man steals one dollar, he is called a thief and put into prison; if he rapes and pillages an innocent country by military invasion, he is crowned a hero. How ignorant is humankind!" (within pp. 101-103)
Other Writings include for example 'Abdu'l-Bahá acknowledging that illness can indeed be difficult to bear and there are many other examples where God sympathizes compassionately with the difficulties He gives us (and even those we give ourselves) whether as difficult laws to follow, suffering brought about in the course of our lives, etc. Moreover, other quotes promise a recompense for those enduring with patience.
As to further acknowledgment by God of the difficulties He presents mankind with, I'd recommend reading the Fire Tablet and the Book of Job. These also offer some explanation (at least the partial explanation that we are being tested and the simple statement that it is the Almighty God's will). Also, particularly the latter offers the perspective that although God is kind enough to assuage our difficulties by not burdening us with more than we can bear, giving us explanations, etc.--and though as Shoghi Effendi points out even the Prophets cried out in anguish from Their sufferings when it was so much to bear--ultimately, on this issue as with others, "to none is given the right to question" in terms of God's Will (assuming we know what it is).
There are some other reasons offered to ease our concerns about the reasons for suffering. However, the Universal House of Justice states in a letter written on their behalf „the trials of the innocent are indeed heartrending and constitute a mystery that the mind of man cannot fathom.š (Messages from the Universal House of Justice, no. 425.2, p. 661)
As to some further explanations as to the reason for suffering, őAbdu‚l-Bahá indicates that „As to the subject of babes and infants and weak ones who are afflicted by the hands of oppressors: This contains great wisdom and this subject is of paramount importance. In brief, for those souls there is a recompense in another world and many details are connected with this matter. For those souls that suffering is the greatest mercy of God. Verily that mercy of the Lord is far better and preferable to all the comfort of this world and the growth and development of this place of mortality. If it be the will of God, when thou shalt be present this will be explained in detail by word of mouth. (Tablets of őAbdu‚l-Bahá, pp. 337-338)
„Question.ŲWhat is the condition of children who die before attaining the age of discretion, or before the appointed time of birth?
Answer.ŲThese infants are under the shadow of the favour of God; and as they have not committed any sin, and are not soiiled with the purities of the world of nature, they are the centres of the manifestation of bounty, and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.š ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 66)
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