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The Inevitability of Tests

Everything of importance in this world demands the close attention of its seeker. The one in pursuit of anything must undergo difficulties and hardships until the object in view is attained and the great success is obtained. This is the case of things pertaining to the world. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 92)

I love it when the Bahá’í Writings tell us a secret of life and this reading is one of those times.  We will have difficulties and hardships.  It’s the way God created the world.  This is a relief because when they come, I don’t have to take them personally.  I don’t have to wail or gnash my teeth.  I don’t have to fall into hopeless helpless despair.  I just have to turn them over to God and get on with my day, praying to take the next right action.

I need to remember that the purpose of my life is to know and worship God and develop the virtues I’ll need in the next world.  When life is easy, we often forget God, but in our difficulties, when we can see no way out, is when we remember and reach out in prayer.  It’s in our difficulties that we grow, both closer to God and in the virtues we need.  This morning I’m growing in patience, faith, trust, hope and long suffering.  What are you growing in?

Knowing tests are inevitable, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Overcoming Fear

. . . the fears and anxieties that distract their minds . . . are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 149)

Recently I made a list of fears that held me back and I was astonished to come up with a list of 125!  Some were obvious (fear of losing my health or my income, fear of authority figures, fear of angry people, fear of success); some were eye-opening (fear of God’s disapproval and punishment, fear of asking for help, fear of letting other people down) and others I had been completely unaware of (fear of making friends, fear of taking up space in the world, fear of moving out of my comfort zone).  The list went on and on!

What fears boil down to, though, is just two things.  We’re afraid of losing what we have or afraid of not getting what we want.   These fears, especially if we are unaware or oblivious to them, are always on the hamster wheel inside our brains, and as the quote reminds us, they distract us and stand in the way of being able to accomplish what we want to do.  They are “formidable” and yet we must all battle against them and surmount them if we want to be of service to our fellow-man.  We can’t do this without God’s help and mercy and we can’t ask for it if we aren’t aware.  So go ahead.  Make your own list!  This will give you some ideas.

Remembering to ask God to help me surmount my many fears, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Reassurance

 

I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved.  (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p.  69)

This is a really hard quote for those who want answers to “why is this happening to me?”  No matter what life throws at us, the bottom line is that it’s happening to profit us.  Somehow, it’s for our good, and that can be hard medicine to swallow, especially when we’re going through really hard times.  I’ve come to understand that all of our tests serve 2 purposes:  to draw us closer to God and to help us acquire the virtues we’ll need in the next world.

When my brother was killed and my daughter died and I suffered through years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, I felt like a victim and even for many years, blamed God.  If there was a God, (and for many years I couldn’t accept that there was), how could He do these things to me?  I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t think the way we do.  I will never understand why He gave us free will and then stood by watching what mankind would do with it.  But with these quotes, and others like it, I’ve come to recognize that my life is better with God in it.  I can more easily handle everything that comes my way, I can appreciate that it’s strengthened my relationship to him, and no doubt I’ve developed a lot of virtues, resilience among them.

Knowing that all my tests are for my benefit, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

 

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Money and Choices

We ask God to . . . raise them unto a station where the world and the lordship thereof shall not turn them aside from looking toward the Supreme Horizon, and where [anxiety for] gaining a livelihood and [providing] household goods shall not divert them from [the thought of] that day whereon the mountains shall be made like carpets . . . By My Lord, were I given the choice between the glory and opulence, the wealth and dignity, the ease and luxury wherein they are, and the distress and affliction wherein I am, I would certainly choose that wherein I am today, and I would not now exchange one atom of these afflictions for all that hath been created in the kingdom of production! Were it not for afflictions in the way of God My continuance would have no sweetness for Me, nor would My life profit Me.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet to the Shah of Persia in A Traveler’s Narrative, p. 181)

In this prayer we’re asking God to raise us to a station.  What is a station?  In the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, (p. 107), Shoghi Effendi tells us that “if to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye the glory of that station were to be unveiled to mankind, every beholder would be consumed away in his longing to attain it.”  So because we’d be “consumed away in our longing to attain it”, it seems important to pay attention to what comes next.

The station we’re being called to here seems to be asking us to make a choice.  Do we want power and prestige (the world and the lordship thereof) or do we want to look towards the Supreme Horizon?  Do we want to look at the anxieties of today or where we want to be for all of eternity?  Bahá’u’lláh then clarifies – do we want glory, opulence, wealth, dignity, ease and luxury or do we want distress and affliction?  Of course we want a life of ease!  I think Bahá’u’lláh is telling us here it’s the wrong choice, though.  I can’t even see a “both/and”.  He doesn’t want me to exchange even one atom of my afflictions for what I perceive to be an easier life.  He’s more interested in where I will rest for eternity.  He wants me to have an eternity of sweetness.

Knowing there are benefits to a life of affliction, and I can choose them, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Everything in its Proper Time

There is one season to harrow the ground, another season to scatter the seeds, still another season to irrigate the fields and still an­other to harvest the crop. We must attend to these various kinds of activities in their proper seasons in order to become successful.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Consultation, p. 7)

I love this quote!  I forget the natural order of things.  I so often plant the seeds and expect the harvest to arrive immediately.  The material world has taught me to expect instant meals, instant banking, instant shopping – impulses are met quickly.  But God’s world is different.

It’s a reminder to slow down.  Stop rushing.  Stop being driven by the “to do” list.  Pray.  Listen to the promptings of the spirit for the next right action.  Remember that everything I am and everything I do is under the watchful care of a loving Father.  All’s right with the world.  This moment is perfect just as it is.  Breathe.  Take time to enjoy and be grateful for every season.  There’s no need to push things before they’re ready.  God’s got my back.  He’s in charge.

Remembering there’s no need to rush, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Mental Illness

 You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles . . . that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul . . . But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear! (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 282)

Some studies suggest that nearly 1 in 5 adults (in the US) will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lifetime,[1] and yet, they remain largely invisible in our Bahá’í communities.  That’s why this quote is so helpful to those suffering from mental illness, as well as families, friends and community members, wanting to know how to reassure and support.

There is such a stigma around this issue, and so many misunderstandings.  I’ve had well-meaning Bahá’ís tell me that my problems are all because of a lack of faith, or past sins and mis-behaviours, or because of a lack of engagement.  Many of us have heard that we’re mentally ill because of some spiritual weakness or lack of willpower.  To overcome it, we don’t need counselling or therapy, we just have to take medication, “pray harder and have more faith”.  This is not helpful!

Mental illness truly IS a heavy burden to bear, and it’s so comforting to see a Central Figure of the Bahá’í Faith acknowledge this fact.  I appreciate Shoghi Effendi letting me know that this is a problem of this world only, and doesn’t affect my spirit or my soul!  Sometimes in the midst of my mental dis-ease, and severe mental tests, it’s hard to feel close to God, to want to pray or to Fast or to take care of my financial obligations to the Fund and the Right of God.  It is very reassuring to know my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, even when I can’t take care of my obligations.

Trusting my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, I can relax and be 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

[1] https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers