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God’s Invisible Justice

He hath, however, caused you to be entangled with (the) affairs (of the world), in return for what your hands have wrought in His Cause. This, indeed, is a chastisement which ye, of your own will, have inflicted upon yourselves, could ye but perceive it. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 209)

When I was first trying to come to terms with my childhood abuse, I wanted justice and it was clear I wasn’t going to get it from the legal system because the statue of limitations had passed.  Even if it hadn’t, I’d watched some of my friends go that route, and witnessed first hand how the court system retraumatizes those who’ve been abused, especially as children.

Slowly, the idea of God’s justice came to my awareness and over time, to my attention.  This quote remained in the back of my mind for many years, though, because I just couldn’t get my head around it.  Like many abuse survivors, I couldn’t understand why the perpetrators seemed to not only get away with it, but had materially rich lives as well, whereas many of us lived in poverty and couldn’t seem to get ahead no matter how hard we tried.  It didn’t seem fair, was the general consensus.

One day, something clicked when `Abdu’l-Bahá elaborated on Bahá’u’lláh’s words:

In like manner, they consider spiritual punishment—that is, existential torment and chastisement—to consist in subjection to the world of nature; in being veiled from God; in ignorance and unawareness; in engrossment with covetous desires; in absorption in animal vices; in being marked by evil attributes, such as falsehood, tyranny, and iniquity; in attachment to worldly things; and in immersion in satanic fancies—all of which they reckon to be the greatest of torments and punishments.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 60, #4)

And now it came together.  Being poor in all save God has its own rewards, in that I had no choice but to turn to God for my daily needs.  When we have everything, it’s easy to forget God and to think that our good fortune is of our own doing.

Being subjected to the world of nature; being veiled from God; being ignorant and unaware; being engrossed with covetous desires; being absorbed by animal vices; being marked by evil attributes, such as falsehood, tyranny, and iniquity; being attached to worldly things; and being immersed in satanic fancies is surely chastisement and the greatest of torments and punishments!  Given the choice of their lives and mine, I’m glad to be close to God and remember Him every day.

Leaving justice in God’s hands and trusting His justice, I can relax and I am grateful.

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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Why Do Children Have to Suffer from Evil?

On this plane of existence, there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom. Among these are heart-rending trials of the innocent …. With regard to the spiritual significance of the suffering of children ‘who are afflicted at the hands of the oppressor’, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not only states that for those souls ‘the afflictions that they bear in life become a cause for them of …. an outpouring of divine mercy and bestowal’, He also explains that to be a recipient of God’s mercy is ‘preferable to a hundred thousand earthly comforts’, and He promised that ‘in the world to come a mighty recompense awaiteth such souls’. Much, indeed, might be said upon this theme, and upon how the afflictions that they bear in life become the cause for them of such an outpouring of Divine mercy and bestowal as is preferable to a hundred thousand comforts and to a world of growth and development in this transitory abode.  (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 2 December 1985)

A few years ago, I was concerned about a child who seemed to be suffering from neglect and abuse and I tried to get help, only to be told “it’s OK.  He’ll grow out of it.  Children are resilient.”  This really triggered my own experience.  I don’t think it’s OK.  I certainly didn’t grow out of it and at that time, I didn’t at all feel resilient because of it.  This bothered me for many years, until I found this quote.  From it I learned that:

  • there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom, including the suffering of children at the hands of the oppressors
  • many details are connected with it
  • a mighty recompense awaits them in the next world, including an outpouring of divine mercy and bestowal
  • their suffering is preferable to all the comfort of this world
  • it’s preferable to all the growth and development they may have missed in this world
  • it’s preferable to a hundred thousand earthly comforts

I gather that this information comes from tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha not yet translated, and I’d love to read the whole quote, but I’m so happy that the House of Justice summarized it.  This helps me to accept that God’s aware of this problem, so I can let go of my need to look for justice in this world.  It also helps me be patient through all the tests and spiritual growth that stems from my childhood abuse.

I wasn’t able to help that child; and no one was there to help me as a child but knowing that God saw it all and there will be compensation, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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Praying for Ourselves as Well as Our Oppressors  

Cleanse them, then, O my God, from all idle fancies and vain imaginations, that they may inhale the fragrances of sanctity from the robe of Thy Revelation and Thy commandment, that haply they may cease to inflict upon me what will deprive their souls of the fragrances of the manifold tokens of thy mercy, that are wafted in the days of Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself, and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause, and that they may not perpetrate what will call down Thy wrath and anger. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations, pp. 307-308)

In the days when I found it hard to forgive my parents for the abuse perpetrated on me as a child, I liked to use this prayer to pray for them.  In this prayer I was asking God to:

  • Cleanse them from all idle fancies and vain imaginations
  • Help them inhale the fragrances of sanctity from His robe

So that they would cease to inflict upon me what would deprive their souls of the fragrances of the manifold tokens of His mercy and that they would not perpetrate what will call down His wrath and anger.  It was a bit self-serving, but I could do it because it was a prayer and I wanted to align my wishes with prayer.

Lately, I’ve been looking at it a little differently.  I remember that whenever I point a finger at someone else, there are 3 fingers pointing back at me.  I can use this prayer to ask God to cleanse ME of all idle fancies and vain imaginations; and to help ME inhale the fragrances of His unconditional love, so that I can stop feeling guilty for not being the Baha’i I want to be, following all injunctions and laws and actively engaged with the core activities and community building.

Knowing I can pray for myself as well as my oppressors, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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Children Learn First to Obey their Parents, and then to Obey God

Parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

Children learn to be obedient to their parents first because they are the only authority figure they know. This allegiance is then transferred to God. For children like me, who grew up with abusive parents, who never received love or mercy or forgiveness, the concept of a loving God is just an intellectual knowing.

I’m 63 and my parents are long dead, but I’m still waiting for God’s punishment and have driven myself into burnout and adrenal exhaustion trying to earn enough spiritual brownie points to earn a place in heaven.

Just this week someone helped me finally see why, after being a loyal, devoted and deepened Bahá’í for nearly 40 years, I react so strongly and negatively to Ruhi and letters from our beloved House of Justice: I’ve seen them as a growing list of tasks from God (my Father), which I have to complete on time, perfectly or I will be punished by God or His representatives on earth (the Institutions). It’s been a terrible way to live! Thank God I now understand!

Never having personal experience with anyone approaching the All-Loving, the All-Merciful or the Ever-Forgiving, I can step out in faith, trusting God to heal this deep and far-reaching primal wound, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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Self Image

 O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 22)

Recently I was studying the long obligatory prayer with a Bahá’í friend and we noted that in the preface to a paragraph near the end, Bahá’u’lláh asks us to “rise and say:  “O God, my God!  My back is bowed by the burden of my sins, and my heedlessness hath destroyed me.”  It’s always seemed a strange posture to take when talking about my sins.  Normally I would want to crumble, turn in with shame and refuse to look Him in the eye, but no.  He won’t let me do that.  He wants me to stand strong and tall before Him when admitting to my sins.  He wants me to see my nobility before Him.

We’ve all been created noble.  We’ve all been created with a lower and higher nature.  We’ve all been created as sinners.  We’ve all been created with free will.  We’ve all been created weak.  God knows that we are going to abase ourselves because of our weakness or stubbornness or ignorance.  It’s all part of the Divine Plan.  But it’s also part of His plan that we don’t define ourselves by all the ways we fall short in our quest for obedience.  We rise, because we know we’ve been forgiven before we ever transgressed.   We rise because of God’s love for us, whether we believe and accept it or not.

Knowing that God doesn’t judge me as harshly as I judge myself, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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Understanding our Reality

Do thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded?  (Bahá’u’lláh, Seven Valleys, p. 34)

There are so many places in the Bahá’í Writings that talk of the reality of our being, and yet I continue to abase myself by focusing on my weakness and my frailty.  I do (most of the time) reckon myself a puny form, but this quote reminds me that God is closer to me than my life-vein and when I lean on Him for support, I can do anything.

Several years ago I was serving as a travel teacher in Canada’s arctic and got frost bite on my finger tips.  Now, whenever they are cold (every winter, even at 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as I discovered today), they are so painful I can almost cry out with the pain.  I was in the middle of my walk and still had more than half an hour to get home.  I was doing everything I could think of to warm up my fingers, curling them up in my gloves, pulling my sleeve down over my hands, making space in my gloves between the ends of the fingers) and so on.  Finally, I was inspired to ask God to warm up my fingers and He did!  The pain disappeared and I was able to get home, enjoying the rest of my walk.  I think this kind of miracle is available to any of us, if we remember who we are.

Remembering that with God’s strength, all things are possible, I am grateful!

What miracles have you seen when you rely on God?  What else jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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