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Some people suggest that God wants us to have a comfortable life where we are “healthy, wealthy and wise”, and by this they mean a material life of comfort.  Maybe you recognize this thought:  “if only I do the right things, God will treat me right”, but this isn’t how God works.  I think He wants us to be spiritually “healthy, wealthy and wise”, and this is where suffering comes in.

Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world. Even the Beloved ones, the Prophets of God, have never been exempt from the ills that are to be found in our 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. 603-604)

Other people think the safest place to be is inside the Will of God, but this too is not true.  Bahá’u’lláh was certainly inside God’s Will, and He was beaten, tortured, rejected by His own family members and spent the majority of His life in prison.  Who would want that life?

The Prophets and saints were, each and every one, subjected to the bitterest afflictions that the world has to offer, and were targets for all the cruelties and aggressions of mankind. They sacrificed their lives for the welfare of the people, and with all their hearts they hastened to the place of their martyrdom; and with their inward and outward perfections they arrayed humanity in new garments of excellent qualities, both acquired and inborn. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 34-35)

Some people think that just by becoming Bahá’í, they are somehow exempt, but we’re told:

Thou knowest that the people are encircled with pain and calamities and are environed with hardships and trouble. Every trial doth attack man and every dire adversity doth assail him like unto the assault of a serpent. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 619)

Other people think we suffer because of sins in past lives:

All mankind is suffering in this earthly world; there is no one in such tranquility that this (state) might have been a reward for his good deeds in a former life.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 643)

What other misconceptions can you think of?  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

What Good Can Come From Suffering?

How Should We Respond To 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: