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The Oneness of Humanity teaches us that when one part suffers, the whole part suffers.

. . . were each member to be subjected to any injury or were it to become diseased, all the other members would sympathetically suffer, due to the existence of their perfect unity. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 280)

We can turn to each other in times of suffering:

. . . the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength. How much the organs, the members and the parts of the body of man are intermingled and connected for mutual aid and help, and how much they influence one another!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 244)

It doesn’t mean that we (as Bahá’ís) have to stand by and watch helplessly.  We can take some comfort in knowing that there are things we can do:

Our duty as Bahá’ís is to build up such a love and unity within our own ranks that the people will be attracted by this example to the Cause. We also must teach all we can and strengthen the Bahá’í Community in the administration. But more we cannot do to avert the great sufferings which seemingly still lie ahead of the world in its present evil state.  ( Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

There is a power in drawing on each other’s love when we are suffering:

Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith . . . (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 8).

One of the purposes of a study circle is to build a depth of relationships where we can carry each other’s burdens.

A distinguishing feature of study circles is that . . . they have created a new dynamic within the community and have become nuclei of community life and . . . bind the group together in fellowship.  (International Teaching Centre, 2000 Feb, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, p. 7)

So we have an obligation to help one another, and one way we can do it is through home visits and visiting the sick:

We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 204).

In the midst of our suffering, when people don’t know how to help, they might say things we think are trite, to help us through:

  • He should at all times trust in God. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 49)
  • All men are in God’s hands. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)
  • Prayers and supplications should be offered.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)
  • Be not troubled because of hardships and ordeals.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 50)

Even when we think these don’t bring comfort in our darkest moments, the words of God have a power to heal:

Now, if thou wishest to know the divine remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 376)

The people of religions find, in the teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh, . . the immediate cure of the incurable disease, which relieves every pain and bestows the infallible antidote for every deadly poison.  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 416)

By understanding someone’s pain, we don’t need to say trite things; we can just “be” with them.

How else can we help others who are suffering?  Post your comments here:

For more in this series:

Suffering is Inescapable

Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Role of Free Will and Suffering

Misconceptions about Suffering

What Good Can Come From Suffering?

How Should We Respond To Suffering

And previous blog postings on the same topic:

Why Does Life Have to Hurt So Much?

Suffering Through Tests:

Suffering is Not Optional, But We Can Change How Long We Stay Stuck: