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Editor: Dianne Bradford, 5384 Tansas Ln., Hilliard, OH 43026

Vol. 1, No. 10

     Topic: Suffering and Tests                   Page 1
      This newsletter is dedicated to all seekers after the Eternal Truth.

      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.1

           We may not immediately (or sometimes ever) be able to see past the seeming "fire and vengeance" to perceive the "light and mercy" inside the calamities that afflict us at any particular time, but Bahá'u'lláh assures us in the above passage that the "light and mercy" is indeed there and will benefit us by enabling us to "become an eternal light and an immortal spirit," which is surely a worthy and desirable goal for each of us. It takes patience and faith that God truly has our best interests at heart--and who better (actually, who else at all) can we trust with the basics of our existence than our Creator Himself Who loves us more than anyone else possibly could? In addition, we have the assurance provided by these next passages, to increase our strength, courage and confidence:

     Set all thy hope in God, and cleave tenaciously to His unfailing mercy. Who else but Him can enrich the destitute, and deliver the fallen from his abasement?2

                 He will never deal unjustly with any one, neither will He task a soul beyond its power. He, verily, is the Compassionate, the All-Merciful.3

     O SON OF MAN!
      Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not,
for both shall pass away and be no more.4

      If poverty overtake thee, be not sad; for in time the Lord of wealth shall visit thee. Fear not abasement, for glory shall one day rest on thee.5

           Thou art My stronghold; enter therein that thou mayest abide in safety. My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find Me near unto thee.6

           But why do we need tests at all when they can be so painful and difficult? The next passages further explain the nature and value of tests:
                     Glory to Thee, O my God! But for the tribulations which are sustained in Thy path, how could Thy true lovers be recognized; and were it not for the trials which are borne for love of Thee, how could the station of such as yearn for Thee be revealed?7      --Bahá'u'lláh

                .Life is a load which must be carried on while we are on earth, but the cares of the lower things of life should not be allowed to monopolize all the thoughts and aspirations of a human being. The heart's ambitions should ascend to a more glorious goal, mental activity should rise to higher levels! Men should hold in their souls the vision of celestial perfection, and there prepare a dwelling-place for the inexhaustible bounty of the Divine Spirit.8

      O SON OF MAN!
      For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.9

      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?10

      O SON OF MAN!
      Be thou content with Me and seek no other helper. For none but Me can ever suffice thee.11

      Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself.12

      Not until man is tried doth the pure gold distinctly separate from the ross. Torment is the fire of test wherein the pure gold shineth resplendently and the impurity is burned and blackened. 13

                The passage which follows is a speech (which I chose to include in its entirety) given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during a trip to Paris near the beginning of this century, and which may provide some
additional insight and guidance on this subject.
            In this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain.
                Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.
                There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter--the spiritual world bestows only the joy!
                If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion.
                For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightaway homeless, ruined, and in despair.
                All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene.
                Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of
matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.
                If sorrow and adversity visit us, let us turn our faces to the Kingdom and heavenly consolation will be outpolled.
                If we are sick and in distress let us implore God's healing, and He will answer our prayer.
                When our thoughts are filled with the bitterness of this world, let us turn our eyes to the sweetness of God's compassion and He will send us heavenly calm! If we are imprisoned in the material world, our spirit can soar into the Heavens and we shall be free indeed!
          When our days are drawing to a close let us think of the eternal worlds, and we shall be full of joy!
           You see all round you proofs of the inadequacy of material things--how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of the world. Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual Kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness.
                Thank God that you in this assembly have this knowledge, for in all the sorrows of life you can obtain supreme consolation. If your days on earth are numbered, you know that everlasting life awaits you. If material anxiety envelops you in a dark cloud, spiritual radiance lightens your path. Verily, those whose minds are illumined by the Spirit of the Most High have supreme consolation.
                I myself was in prison forty years--one year alone would have been impossible to bear--nobody survived that imprisonment more than a year! But, thank God, during all those forty years I was supremely happy!
                Every day upon waking, it was like hearing good tidings, and every night infinite joy was mine. Spirituality was my comfort, and turning to God was my greatest joy. If this had not been so, do you think it possible that I could have lived through those forty years in prison?
                Thus, spirituality is the greatest of God's gifts, and 'Life Everlasting' means "Turning to God'. May you, one and all, increase daily in spirituality, may you be strengthened in all goodness, may you be helped more and more by the Divine consolation, be made free by the Holy Spirit of God, and may the power of the Heavenly Kingdom live and work among you.
                This is my earnest desire, and I pray to God to grant you this favour.14

                Finally, to close this issue, I think a couple of prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb specifically for assistance with tests would be very appropriate and useful:
           Dispel my grief by Thy bounty and Thy generosity, O God, my God, and banish mine anguish through Thy sovereignty and Thy might. Thou seest me, O my God, with my face set toward Thee at a time when sorrows have compassed me on every side. I implore Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of all being, and overshadowest all things visible and invisible, by Thy Name whereby Thou hast subdued the hearts and the souls of men, and by the billows of the Ocean of Thy mercy and the splendors of the Daystar of Thy bounty, to number me with them whom nothing whatsoever hath deterred from setting their faces toward Thee, O Thou Lord of all names and Maker of the heavens!
                Thou beholdest, O my Lord, the things which have befallen me in Thy days. I entreat Thee, by Him Who is the Dayspring of Thy names and the Dawning-Place of Thine attributes, to ordain for me what will enable me to arise to serve Thee and to extol Thy virtues. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful, Who art wont to answer the prayers of all men!
                And finally, I beg of Thee by the light of Thy countenance to bless my affairs, and redeem my debts, and satisfy my needs. Thou art He to Whose power and to Whose dominion every tongue hath
testified, and Whose majesty and Whose sovereignty every understanding heart hath acknowledged. No God is there but Thee, Who hearest and art ready to answer.15           --Bahá'u'lláh

      Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!16 --The Báb


1 Bahá'u'lláh , The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p 15.
2 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 323.
3 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 106.
4 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 16.
5 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh p. 16.
6 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 6.
7 Bahá'í Prayers, 1954 Ed., p. 104.
8 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 99.
9 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh p. 15.
10 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 15.
11 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 8.
12 Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh,p. 8.
13 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 120-121.
14 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 109-112.
15 Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 Edition, pp. 26-27.
16 Bahá'í Prayers, 1991 Edition, p. 28.

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