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How do Baha’is respond to suffering?

We’re told to rejoice – a mental discipline that can be very difficult to achieve.

When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)

Grieve not at the divine trials. Be not troubled because of hardships and ordeals; turn unto God, bowing in humbleness and praying to Him, while bearing every ordeal, contented under all conditions and thankful in every difficulty. Verily thy Lord loveth His maidservants who are patient, believing and firm. He draws them nigh unto Him through these ordeals and trials.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 50)

We need to cling to this thought in tough times:

If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God’s all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one’s cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter. Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire and Light, p. 10)

We’re told to:

Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Ahmad, Baha’i Prayers, p. 210)

Bahá’u’lláh was:

Wrongly accused, imprisoned, beaten, chained, banished from country to country, betrayed, poisoned, stripped of material possessions, and “at every moment tormented with a fresh torment” . . . For two score [40] years, until the end of His earthly days, He remained a prisoner and exile . . . [and experienced such] grief no ordinary mortal could endure. But lest we give way to feelings of gloom and distress, we take recourse in the tranquil calm He induces with such meaningful words as these: “We have borne it all with the utmost willingness and resignation, so that the souls of men may be edified, and the Word of God be exalted.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 239-240)

And while we’re remembering His days, we can join with Him in His suffering, and trust these words:

Now ye, as well, must certainly become my partners to some slight degree, and accept your share of tests and sorrows. But these episodes shall pass away, while that abiding glory and eternal life shall remain unchanged forever. Moreover, these afflictions shall be the cause of great advancement.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 238-239)

He’s given us a prayer to use (The Tablet of Ahmad), in which He promises:

Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Ahmad, Baha’i Prayers, p. 211)

And in the meantime, we can finish with a prayer:

I ask God to grant thee by His favor and grace that which is thy utmost desire; that the closed doors become opened, the uneven roads become even, thy face shine by the love of God, thy sight become brighter by witnessing the signs of God; that thou mayest attain spiritual joy, eternal happiness and heavenly life.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 129-130)

How else can we respond to 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 Can We Help Someone Who is 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: