All of my adult life I’ve been consistently physically, emotionally and spiritually sick. I’ve known it in every fiber of my being, but doctors (and busybodies) tell me that nothing’s wrong. It’s all in my head, or it’s “just” stress. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a gift from God, for the perfecting of my soul:
Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world . . . poverty, disease, bereavement – they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes! (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603)
We’re told in the Bahá’í Writings to consult doctors when we are sick. But if I truly believe that it’s a gift from God, why would I go to a doctor to rid myself of something God’s given me?
We have a set of doctors who look after our body’s physical health; and a different set of doctors who look after our mental health; but where are the doctors who look after our soul’s health?
Surely if we can’t take care of our own physical and mental health without the need for specialists, we also need specialists who help us look after our spiritual health. Perhaps it’s the Local Spiritual Assemblies in their role as loving parents, but in their embryonic state, most of them aren’t able to perform this function yet.
Of course, we have the Divine Physician, who we often forget to consult, especially when our pain is acute:
. . . the true Physician is debarred from administering the remedy, whilst unskilled practitioners are regarded with favour, and are accorded full freedom to act. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 39-40).
We’re told in the Bahá’í Writings to look for “competent physicians” when we’re sick. Two of the elements mentioned are that doctors should look to the spiritual causes of disease and take time to know their patients:
Say to [Dr.] . . . . that “he studied physical medicine and he cured physical diseases. I beg of God that he may become a spiritual physician and heal the sickness of the ignorant ones.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 507)
Consequently, the doctor must be aware of, and know, all the members and parts, as well as the constitution and state of the patient, so that he can prescribe a medicine which will be beneficial against the violent poison of the disease. In reality the doctor deduces from the disease itself the treatment which is suited to the patient, for he diagnoses the malady, and afterward prescribes the remedy for the illness. Until the malady be discovered, how can the remedy and treatment be prescribed? The doctor then must have a thorough knowledge of the constitution, members, organs and state of the patient, and be acquainted with all diseases and all remedies, in order to prescribe a fitting medicine. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 158)
With a health care system disintegrating, doctors are ignorant of the spiritual roots of disease and don’t have time to get to know their patients, so it’s hard to find one that’s truly “competent”.
This has led me to research alternative methods of healing, including following up on suggestions found in the Bahá’í Teachings, but like everyone else, I’ve missed the spiritual roots of my disease – sin (falling short in my obedience to God) and fear.
God wants me to be healed. It’s in His nature as the “Healer”, “the Helper”. But healing is not an “on” switch. Although God says he can make anything happen in a “twinkling of an eye”, He often doesn’t. There’s frequently a change that needs to happen in our thinking, our actions and our being before healing can take place. So we can’t be in a hurry to be healed – we need to be patient.
It was a journey becoming dis-eased and it will be a journey getting whole again. Think of a baby learning to walk. He takes tiny, tentative, hesitant steps at first, and then falls on his butt, often crying in frustration and pain in the process. But we always encourage him so that he gets up and tries once more, over and over again. I think I would rather fall down 4 times in the process of healing (relapse), and get up again 4 times, than stay down, hopeless that recovery will ever happen.
I’m impatient, though. I’ve lived without hope for so long. The only hope of a better life seems to be found in the Bahá’í teachings about the afterlife, so I want to die, so I can get there, and begin my “true life”, free from relentless emotional distress and pain. But wouldn’t it be better if I could have a perfect healing in this world, so I didn’t have to wait for the next? Is it possible? And if it is, wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
If I could truly be healed of my post traumatic stress symptoms; the anxiety, depression, low self esteem and low self worth which are remnants from childhood abuse, then I would be willing to live in this world, take full advantage of the opportunities it has for me, and would no longer long to die! O God, help me to have a perfect healing in this world. I know it’s possible because you tell me:
But for the unfailing grace of God — exalted be His glory — no antidote could ever cure these inveterate diseases. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 252)
God will assist thee, through a spirit from His Presence, to heal sickness and disease. (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 112)
Turn thou toward God with thy heart beating with His love, devoted to His praise, gazing toward His Kingdom and seeking help from His Holy Spirit in a state of ecstasy, rapture, love, yearning, joy and fragrance. God will assist thee, through a Spirit from His Presence, to heal sickness and diseases. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 628)
O God, guide my steps aright, through Thine inspiration!