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