I know in the midst of suffering, it’s hard to hear God’s truth. We learned to use the drug of self-pity as children, but it doesn’t work well now that we’re adults, which is why, through the Baha’i Writings, God gives us so many wonderful quotes to help us understand what’s real and what’s not.
First of all, suffering doesn’t come from God. It comes from faulty thought processes arising from our lower natures. God understands that we will suffer and He’s taught us how to overcome it. As children we didn’t know we had a higher nature to reach for, but as Bahá’ís we know that:
If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 109)
In the case of those experiencing frustration with the justice system, the world of illusion suggests that:
- There is justice in this world
- Justice comes from an inherently flawed, disintegrating system
- We need to look to the justice system instead of to God for justice.
But all of these are lies. How do I know? Because they aren’t supported by the Bahá’í Writings, which is the only standard we can trust. So if we don’t want to suffer, we need to recognize that it’s our thoughts causing the problem; search out the Truth; and change the thoughts.
God’s given us suffering for the perfection of our souls:
‘Does the soul progress more through sorrow or through the joy in this world?’
And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered:
‘The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.’ (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)
And how we handle it will either keep us stuck in the prison of self, or help raise us up to a joy that no earthly power can ever take from us:
Our willingness to suffer is part of our demonstration of love for all mankind. Along with it, however, we must also be able to develop the spiritual muse not to dwell on our suffering but to turn our attention away to the great and many sources of our joy. For it is in God that we place our confidence, it is the life processes which the Faith has set in motion which we trust, knowing that it takes time and includes many setbacks. (Compilations, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 121)
So please choose faith over fear, and “rise then unto that for which thou wast created”. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 22)