Why aren’t we getting better?
I’m often asked why people with anxiety aren’t getting better. The Baha’i Writings have some answers.
I want to first acknowledge that of course, Baha’is are required to seek medical treatment and follow the doctor’s instructions when we are sick:
It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor’s instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdul- Bahá, p. 156)
For purposes of this article, though, I want to explore the untapped resource that we have in turning to God.
Most of us don’t consult the right source. We forget that God is the Healer and look for healing everywhere else:
There is but one power which heals-that is God. (‘Abdul-Bahá, ‘Abdul-Bahá in London, p. 95)
The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 212)
Its sickness is approaching the stage of utter hopelessness, inasmuch as the true Physician is debarred from administering the remedy, whilst unskilled practitioners are regarded with favor, and are accorded full freedom to act. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 39)
Unfortunately, in doing so, most of us leave our health in the hands of unskilled physicians:
He hath fallen under the control of unskillful physicians who are hurried away by vain desires and are of those who stray madly. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 112)
And today we see him under the hands of those who are taken by the intoxification of the wine of deceits in such manner that they do not know what is best for themselves (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 112)
These physicians often have the wrong motivations, so they’re only able to heal us to a certain extent:
And if one of them endeavor to better his health, his intention will not be but to profit himself thereof whether by name or effect, therefore he will not be able to heal him save to a certain extent. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 112)
Many of them become doctors because it feeds their ego, so of course they can’t discover the cause of the disease or have any knowledge of the remedy:
They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith)
Some doctors see themselves as gods, so of course their patients suffer:
In one of His Tablets (Iqtiddarat, p. 85) Bahá’u’lláh mentions that a disease has afflicted many of those who, in their own estimation, have acquired a measure of knowledge and learning. The disease is that such people consider themselves to be the equal of the Manifestation of God and on the same level. He states that a great many people suffer from this disease and consequently they have deprived themselves of the bounties of God’s Revelation. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 13)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that medical science will much improve when we have spiritual awakening:
Abdu’l-Bahá does often state that the medical science will much improve. With the appearance of every revelation a new insight is created in man and this is turn express itself in the growth of science. This has happened in past dispensations and we find its earliest fruits in our present day. What we see however is only the beginning. With the spiritual awakening of man this force will develop and marvelous results will become manifest. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)
When we’ve had this awakening, we’ll realize that God is the source of all healing; no one or nothing else. Period.
Now that we understand why we need to turn to God to heal us of our anxiety, let’s look at how, and what gets in the way.
How Do We Turn to God?
It’s important to get to know who we are through the eyes of God, and accept our place in His family. Once we truly believe that “God is greater than any great thing”, it will set us free.
Fear is not greater than God.
Fear is not greater than the Word of God.
God is greater than Fear, and God is greater than medical doctors, which is why we need to turn to Him.
Greater is God than every great one! (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 320)
This is the standard we want to get to – that our love for God is so great, that we have no fear of anyone.
Such is my love for Thee that I can fear no one, though the powers of all the worlds be arrayed against me. Alone and unaided I have, by the power of Thy might, arisen to proclaim Thy Cause, unafraid of the host of my oppressors. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 187)
We turn to God knowing He has the power to change weakness into strength; doubt into certainty and more important for our study, fear into calm:
Thou art He Who changeth through His bidding abasement into glory, and weakness into strength, and powerlessness into might, and fear into calm, and doubt into certainty. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Beneficent. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 249)
That’s right! God can turn fear into calm, so why do we choose to live with it, when we can easily come back to a place of peace?
Because our fear matters to us, overcoming it matters to God, because He loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer, so let’s give Him our anxieties! He stands ready to take them from us!
It’s hard to do this if we don’t first have a relationship with God as our “loving parent”, our “friend” or our “best lover”. I discuss more about this in the section Overcoming Fear with Love.
Understand the way the world works – see the end in the beginning:
God created the world and everything in it, and as He says:
My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 12)
We get ourselves into trouble when we don’t like the world the way it is, and want to see things differently. By turning to God, through reading the Writings, we start to understand the world better, which makes it easier to be more at peace with what is going on around us.
Sometimes we’re in the middle of a test, and in a lot of fear, not wanting to move forward, and it’s then that God sends the Watchman to push us over the wall. He’s always with us, willing to help, even when His help feels like more calamities. Let’s take a look at a story to illustrate.
There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart’s wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.
At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: “Surely this watchman is Izra’il, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me.” His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.
And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: “O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Israfil, bringing life to this wretched one!”
Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil. Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in love’s desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart’s physician.
Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger. (Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 13)
Stress and strain are essential parts of God’s creation. It’s the reason why atoms and molecules, crystals and everything that exists though them do not fall apart. It’s why buildings don’t collapse and why we can drive safely across a bridge.
Certain elements have gathered and combine in chemical affinity. The tree, the man, the fish are due to this attraction and cohesion which have brought the elements together. A composition or composite being has resulted. The outcome of certain atomic grouping, for instance, is a mirror, table or clock because a cohesive power has magnetized and bound these atoms together. When that attracting power is withdrawn, dissolution and disintegration follow; no mirror, table or clock remain — no trace, no existence. Therefore, commingling of the atoms brings forth a reality, while dispersion or dissemination of them is equivalent to nonexistence. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 207)
Martha Root calls this the “power of attraction”:
This composition of atoms which constitutes the body or mortal element of any created being, is temporary. When the power of attraction which holds these atoms together is withdrawn, the body as such ceases to exist. (Martha Root, Misc Baha’i, Appreciations of the Baha’i Faith, p. 11)
In our lives these forces of stress and strain are equally essential, but most of us regard them as unacceptable and struggle to reject and overcome them at every turn. Our powerlessness over whatever comes to pass is in most part what we come to think of as the cause of our unhappiness, but this is wrong thinking. We’re told in the Writings that everything that happens to us (affliction, sorrow, toil, anguish, sacrifice) is all, in fact, a blessing from God.
O ye lovers of God! Do not dwell on what is coming to pass in this holy place, and be ye in no wise alarmed. Whatsoever may happen is for the best, because affliction is but the essence of bounty, and sorrow and toil are mercy unalloyed, and anguish is peace of mind, and to make a sacrifice is to receive a gift, and whatsoever may come to pass hath issued from God’s grace. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 243-246)
We can reduce our anxiety’s hold over us by looking at our fears as the cries of a suckling babe weaned from his mother’s milk, and have compassion for our poor selves:
The fears and agitation which the revelation of this law provokes in men’s hearts should indeed be likened to the cries of the suckling babe weaned from his mother’s milk, if ye be of them that perceive. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 175)
God knows our frailty, and that we get anxious, and he asks us to give that cup of anxiety to Him for His blessing:
These friends are perfectly infatuated with Thy nearness; they have given their hearts for the beauty of Thy face; are devoted to Thy Kingdom and are intoxicated by the wine of belief. In the meeting of the covenant they are bearing in their hands the cup of anxiety, needing Thy benevolence and yearning for the heavenly blessings. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 646)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us that from the beginning of time, sorrow and anxiety, regret and tribulation, have always been the lot of every loyal servant of God, and tells us that the solution is to set our hearts on the tender mercies of God, so we can be filled with abiding joy and intense gladness.
O my well-beloved, deeply spiritual sister! Day and night thou livest in my memory. Whenever I remember thee my heart swelleth with sadness and my regret groweth more intense. Grieve not, for I am thy true, thy unfailing comforter. Let neither despondency nor despair becloud the serenity of thy life or restrain thy freedom. These days shall pass away. We will, please God, in the Abhá Kingdom and beneath the sheltering shadow of the Blessed Beauty, forget all these our earthly cares and will find each one of these base calumnies amply compensated by His expressions of praise and favour. From the beginning of time sorrow and anxiety, regret and tribulation, have always been the lot of every loyal servant of God. Ponder this in thine heart and consider how very true it is. Wherefore, set thine heart on the tender mercies of the Ancient Beauty and be thou filled with abiding joy and intense gladness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 4)
He knows that trying to be happy and assured while serving the Cause can cause anxiety, and reassures us that everyone’s life has crisis and victory; agony and blessing, frustration and progress. We’re not alone or unique in the stresses facing us.
To be required to be happy and assured, while busily serving the Cause, can raise in us more than a little anxiety. The Faith brings each one of us crises as well as victories. Our own lives and even the lives of the central Figures of the Faith have been fraught with agony as well as blessing, with failure and frustration and grief, as frequently as with progress. This is the nature of life. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)
The way to peace is to give your worries to God, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore. He knows what we need before we do. All we have to do is lay all our affairs in His Hands and then trust Him with everything that happens to us.
You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. (Baha’u’llah, Fire and Light, p. 10)
When you give him your anxieties, you don’t have to worry about them anymore, because he’s got them in hand.
Many of us have trouble trusting God. It doesn’t matter how much we see His work in our lives; we still might have trouble trusting. Perhaps we think: “Maybe he’s forgotten about me; maybe he’s dropped the ball; maybe he’s too busy to get back to me . . .”
We get in trouble when we think He’s not answering our prayers fast enough, so we take them back and start worrying again.
For example, my son grew up in the Faith but never declared, and has gone the way of many of his peers, immersed in materialism and the pleasures of his lower nature. Every day I pray that he will find Baha’u’llah again, and come back to the Faith. Every time I see my son in crisis, I take back this worry. I know that if he was a deepened Baha’i he’d be able to handle his tests and have an easier life, more filled with joy. For years my prayers for him have, at times been intense. I’ve dedicated many fasts to this purpose, and I don’t see any evidence that my prayers have been answered. When I catch myself in this negative downward spiral of mistrust and anger with God, I’m glad I’ve memorized this quote! Now whenever I start to feel anxious about this, or anything, I say: “I trust you God. I might not like your timing or your answer, but I trust you.” Just reminding myself of God’s love brings me back to a place of peace.
Every one of us have a loving, heavenly father who knows what we need and He meets our needs before we even need them. This is a hard concept to grasp when you haven’t had an earthly father who models this for us. In this case we need to start with something small – a mustard seed of faith.
It’s hard to trust God if you don’t know him – it develops slowly the more you have a relationship with Him – the more time you spend with Him, trusting Him with one small thing that needs help – then you can trust Him with something bigger tomorrow.
For example: I started with the Remover of Difficulties. When my son was very little I wanted Him to turn to God whenever he had trouble, so I was teaching him this skill at the same time I was teaching myself. I know we’re not supposed to change the wording of the prayers, but I wanted to make it more real for both of us. Starting with something small in this case, included looking for a lost toy. I said: “Is there any remover of missing toys save God . . .” and then when we found it, it was proof that we could take our troubles to God and He would answer.
Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding! (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 27)
God’s shoulders are big enough to handle everyone’s worries, because He cares for each one of us. Sure He has a lot of other things to do, but God is infinite, so He can do it all.
I have nothing to be afraid of, because I know that God loves me, takes care of my every need, protects me and wants me to succeed. He created and brought me to the tests in my life and He’ll bring me through them if I let Him.
No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through will come out as Bahá’u’lláh has promised. (Shoghi Effendi?, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)
In our battles against fear, we must be willing to throw ourselves on the absolute care of God. Trust Him whether you live or die, whether you win or you lose.
Sometimes if we peel away the layers of our fear, we’ll discover that underneath them all is a fear that we will die. Baha’is are lucky because there are so many wonderful Writings that talk about death, and the more we know about it, the less we’ll have to fear. Even if the worst thing happens to us and we do get killed, we know there’s another world beyond this one, which brings us great hope and happiness.
All men are in God’s hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this that can hold great hope and happiness for the soul. (Shoghi Effendi?, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)
God created each of us because He loved us, so of course He cares about every detail of our lives. He’s sent us all the things we’re worried about and He’s promised to never abandon us as we go through our tests.
Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt . . . No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most certainly do his utmost to protect his own. (Baha’u’llah, Fire and Light, p. 10)
He’s promised to protect us, no matter what:
Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety. (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 60)
All we have to do is mention His name! No matter what our fears are, whether they include self-criticism, inadequacy, inability or inexperience, we’re told to bury our fears in the assurances of Baha’u’llah, because He’s promised to send the Concourse on High to help. All we have to do is mention His name and He’ll set in motion all the help we’ll need.
Let no excessive self-criticism or any feelings of inadequacy, inability or inexperience hinder you or cause you to be afraid. Bury your fears in the assurances of Bahá’u’lláh. Has He not asserted that upon anyone who mentions His Name will descend the “hosts of Divine inspiration” and that on such a one will also descend the “Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light”? (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 152, 1995, p. 4)
God doesn’t say something if He doesn’t believe it or if it won’t do us any good.
If you feel afraid when there’s nothing to be afraid of, hold on to God, cling to the cord, and know that He wants you to get past your fear so you can be whole.
Cling ye to the Cord of steadfastness, in such wise that all vain imaginings may utterly vanish. (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 75)
Say: It behoveth every one that holdeth fast to the hem of Our Robe to be untainted by anything from which the Concourse on high may be averse. Thus hath it been decreed by thy Lord, the All-Glorious, in this His perspicuous Tablet. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 307)
We’ve been assured of God’s protection. All we have to remember is the power of His name and His love:
Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world’s afflictions can in no wise alarm me. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 208)
This quote has been set to music by Devon Gundry and the music video to go along with it is very powerful.
Shoghi Effendi has given us an amazing visualization to use to imagine God’s protection and if we read it every morning, it will set us up to feel safe as we go through our day:
Putting on the armor of His love, firmly buckling on the shield of His mighty Covenant, mounted on the steed of steadfastness, holding aloft the lance of the Word of the Lord of Hosts, and with unquestioning reliance on His promises as the best provision for their journey, let them set their faces towards those fields that still remain unexplored and direct their steps to those goals that are as yet unattained, assured that He Who has led them to achieve such triumphs, and to store up such prizes in His Kingdom, will continue to assist them in enriching their spiritual birthright to a degree that no finite mind can imagine or human heart perceive. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World – 1950-1957, p. 101)
The Báb has given us a prayer we can use, and it too is a great visualization:
O Lord! Protect us from what lieth in front of us and behind us, above our heads, on our right, on our left, below our feet and every other side to which we are exposed. Verily, Thy protection over all things is unfailing. (The Báb, Baha’i Prayers, p. 133)
There are other practical measures we can take as well. In a letter written by the House of Justice to me, they told me:
In one of His Tablets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has responded to concerns expressed to Him by a believer with the following:
. . . if you seek immunity from the sway of the forces of the contingent world, hang the Most Great Name in your dwelling, wear the ring of the Most Great Name on your finger, place the picture of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in your home and always recite the prayers that I have written; then you will behold the marvellous effect they produce. Those so-called forces will prove but illusions and will be wiped out and exterminated. (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)
It’s certainly easy to:
- hang the Most Great Name in your dwelling
- wear the ring of the Most Great Name on your finger
- place the picture of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in your home
- recite the prayers that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written
He is God
What does it mean to really trust? To believe and have faith that God has things in control. It’s a state of being. You believe God just because He is God. I think we sometimes forget this but God understands so He reminds us at the beginning of many prayers he where He says:
- He is God
- O God, my God
I used to say the second one without thinking about it, but now I realize that what I am saying is: “O God, MY God”. He’s mine! I can count on Him!
God says “I am” not for what He’s going to do for us or to us but for what He does for us already. We learn to trust Him whether we’re healed or whether we’re not.
Catching and Being Grateful for God’s Bounties
God sends us so many bounties that they’re often referred to as a flood. The key is to catch them! We can’t catch them if our glass is pointing downward – we have to turn the glass up.
I’d tutored Ruhi Book 1 many times before I finally understood that my whole job in life is to collect the bounties, without worrying how big my receptacle is and without comparing it to others. Now I jokingly refer to myself as a “bounty hunter” and help others learn to catch their bounties too.
The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man’s hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)
One key to reducing fear is to anticipate God’s bounties, even in moments of deep anxiety. ‘Abdu’l-Baha models this for us, by giving us a prayer we can say, to acknowledge our ordeals, and trust in His bounties:
O my God! O my God! Thou seest me drowned in the sea of ordeals, seized upon by the fire of infidelity, with tears flowing in the dark night rolling in the bed of sleeplessness, mine eyes expectant to see the dawn of the lights of Faith. And when I am anxious, as the fish whose bowels are inflamed upon the dust, I anticipate the manifestation of Thy bounties from all sides! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 381)
There are many prayers of gratitude which remind us of His bounties (all the things He does for us). These are things that we often take for granted because we’re so busy focusing on what we don’t have. They include:
- He called us into being and infused into us His love and knowledge. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 177)
- He strengthened us with the knowledge of Himself and caused us to enter into His protection (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 94)
- He’s given us the cup of everlasting life. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 31)
- He’s torn our veils aside (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 77)
- He’s shown us the marvels of His Revelation (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 150)
- He’s supplied us with every good thing. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 323)
- He’s blessed us with a steady stream of bestowals. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 134-135)
- He allowed us to live in the West where we enjoy perfect liberty, security and peace. Is there a greater blessing than this? Freedom! Liberty! Security! These are the great bestowals of God. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 62)
Obviously there are many more things we could thank Him for. I encourage you to make your own list.
For example: I think of 5 things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning, and 5 new things I’m grateful for before going to bed at night, to remind me of His presence and intervention in my life. The more I look, the more I see, and the more I see, the easier it is to trust Him with my fears and my life.
Another thing to consider is that to be free of Fear, we must be able to receive God’s love and feel safe in it, regardless of whether anyone else loves you or not. God loves you. You must get to a place where you understand and believe that you are accepted by God and loved by God no matter what you think you might have done to lose His love. Once you are complete in God’s love, there is nothing left to fear.
He will certainly pray that you may entirely overcome your fear- complex. When you concentrate your thoughts on realizing that you now belong to Bahá’u’lláh, are His servant whom He loves and will always help, if you ask Him to, and that the great spiritual strength of the Cause of God is behind you for you to draw upon, you will soon see your fears melting away. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)
Once we’ve tasted the sweetness of God’s favors, we can be assured that our path will be cleared of all trouble and tribulations, every time we mention His name.
Whoso hath quaffed the living waters of Thy favors can fear no trouble in Thy path, neither can he be deterred by any tribulation from remembering Thee or from celebrating Thy praise. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 154)
There’s nothing we can do to cause Him to turn away from us. He’s already forgiven us, so we don’t need to let our misdeeds stand in the way of turning to Him.
Turn unto Him, and fear not because of thy deeds. He, in truth, forgiveth whomsoever He desireth as a bounty on His part; no God is there but Him, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bounteous. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 86)
God’s made a covenant or pledge with us – that He’ll never leave us alone. The more we study and learn about the power of the Covenant, the more we’ll see how it removes all the obstacles in our path:
Have no fear or doubts. The power of the Covenant will assist you and invigorate you and remove every obstacle from your path. “He, verily, will aid everyone that aideth Him, and will remember everyone that remembereth Him” (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 145, 1988, p. 3)
The more we understand this, the less we have to fear.
God wants us to live in the spiritual world. The more time we spend there, we’ll realize that fear doesn’t live there.
Ascend to the zenith of an existence which is never beclouded by the fears and forebodings of non-existence. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 265)
The more we love God, the more we realize we have nothing to fear and no harm can come to us:
A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea. (Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 9)
What Gets in the Way of Turning to God?
We don’t believe that God’s got it all under control. Baha’u’llah reminds us that He’s breathed new life into each one of us, to regenerate us, so that we have nothing to fear:
We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this Wronged One to mankind. Wherefore fear ye, O My well-beloved ones? Who is it that can dismay you? (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 84)
We don’t Trust’s God’s Process and His Timetable. If we believe “If God loved me He’d remove the problem”, we’ve bought into another lie, by believing, “if God loves me.” That’s where we go wrong. God does love each one of us unconditionally and thinking that He doesn’t is fear talking again. When we put our trust in God, He will set things in motion to lead us out of our captivity in the prison of self. Hasn’t that already happened? He set things in motion for you to read this blog or buy this book and He let you read this far, so He absolutely will get you out of your captivity, as long as we trust Him and turn to Him.
That seeker must, at all times, put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, must detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must . . . wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264-265)
He that giveth up himself wholly to God, God shall, assuredly, be with him; and he that placeth his complete trust in God, God shall, verily, protect him from whatsoever may harm him, and shield him from the wickedness of every evil plotter. (Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. 47)
We think we can do things our way. The reason the Manifestations of God have come to earth is because mankind turned away from God’s injunctions. Everything is easier when we follow His guidance no matter in which religion it is found. Many people think they can make their own decisions or do things their way, but without God as the uniting factor, it won’t work. Shoghi Effendi tells us how the pendulum can swing from one extreme to another, and then back again:
These fashions are not permanent they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact, we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 211)
Today our society is largely content to go through life without God. This has to change and it can change, by starting with us. When we bury our fears in His assurance, we teach others to do the same.
When our primary focus is directed towards Him, He will take care of everything else in your life! God makes some wonderful promises in the following quote:
I swear by God, should the traveller in the path of salvation and the seeker for the summits of righteousness attain to this supreme and lofty state, he will inhale the fragrance of the True One from remote distances and discern the brilliant morn of guidance from the Day-springs of all things. Every atom and object will direct him to the Beloved and the Desired One. He will become so discerning that he will distinguish truth from falsehood as the sun from shadow. For example; if the breeze of truth should blow forth from the east of creation, he will surely inhale it in the west of emanation. Likewise, he will distinguish all the signs of the True One—such as wonderful words, incomparable deeds, and brilliant actions—from the deeds, actions and traces of all else, just as the jeweller distinguishes the gem from the stone, and man the spring from autumn and heat from cold.
When the head of the soul is purified from the ailment (lit. cold) of the contingent and existent, it will unfailingly discover the fragrance of the Beloved from distant stations, arrive at the city of the assurance of His Highness the Beneficent, through the effect of this fragrance, and behold the wonders of the wisdom of His Highness the Most Holy, in that spiritual city.
It will detect the hidden knowledges from the forms of the leaves of the tree of that city, hear the glorification and praise of the Lord of Lords from its soil, with the outward and inward ears, and perceive the mysteries of “advent” and “return” with the outward eye.
What shall we mention of the signs, tokens, appearances and splendors ordained in that city, by the command of the King of Names and Attributes! It quencheth thirst without water, and increaseth the heat of the love of God without fire.
The ideal consummate wisdom is hidden in every plant, and a thousand nightingales of speech are in ecstasy and rapture upon every rose branch. The mystery of the fire of Moses is revealed in its wonderful tulips, and the breath of the Holy Spirit of Jesus emanates from its fragrances of holiness.
It bestows wealth without gold and grants immortality without death. A paradise is concealed in every leaf, and a hundred thousand wisdoms are treasured in every one of its chambers.
Those who earnestly endeavor in the way of God, after severance from all else, will become so attached to that city that they will not abandon it for an instant. They will hear conclusive proofs from the hyacinth of that assembly and will receive clear arguments from the beauty of the rose and the melody of the nightingale.
This city is renewed and adorned every one thousand years, more or less. Therefore, O my friends, we must make an efforts to attain to that city and remove the veils of glory, through divine favors and lordly compassion, so that we may sacrifice the withered soul in the path of the New Beloved, and show forth a hundred thousand supplications and humiliations in order to be favored with that attainment. (Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 51-52)
It’s a long passage, so let’s us summarize what He’s promised if we turn to Him:
- We will inhale His fragrance from remote distances and discern His guidance
- Every atom and object will direct us to our Beloved
- We will become so discerning that we will distinguish truth from falsehood
- We will distinguish all the signs of God – His wonderful words, incomparable deeds, and brilliant actions
- We will arrive at the city of His assurance
- We will detect the hidden knowledge
- We will find the ideal hidden wisdom
- We will receive wealth (without gold) and immortality (without death).
- We will see the paradise concealed in every leaf, and a hundred thousand wisdoms treasured in every one of its chambers.
- We will become so attached to the city of God that we will not abandon it for an instant.
- We will hear conclusive proofs and will receive clear arguments
In order to be favored with that attainment we need to:
- make an effort
- remove our veils
- show forth a hundred thousand supplications and humiliations
To conclude this section, I’d like to share a prayer which can assist you to be the person God wants you to be:
I beg Thee to forgive me, O my Lord, for every mention but the mention of Thee, and for every praise but the praise of Thee, and for every delight but delight in Thy nearness, and for every pleasure but the pleasure of communion with Thee, and for every joy but the joy of Thy love and of Thy good-pleasure, and for all things pertaining unto me which bear no relationship unto Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of lords, He Who provideth the means and unlocketh the doors. (The Báb, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 79)
Say it, and study it for clues about how to orient your life, and it will surely help you!
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