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Sometimes, when challenges come it’s clear that there’s a lesson I need to learn. Other times, when too many things go awry at once, it’s hard to understand why things are so difficult. The Baha’i writings provide meaning and a wider context for the adversity we all face. 

Adversity comes in many shapes. Difficulties can be as minor as a bad grade on a test, or as devastating as the loss of a loved one, but no matter the circumstance, we receive some form of an opportunity to learn how to “let go and let God” — to learn to surrender. While this can be scary, the Baha’i writings describe surrendering to God in a beautiful way:

Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the realm of the All-Glorious. Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone. With a look He granteth a hundred thousand hopes, with a glance He healeth a hundred thousand incurable ills, with a nod He layeth balm on every wound, with a glimpse He freeth the hearts from the shackles of grief. He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha

While hardship may bring opportunities, I have realized that this is not always guaranteed. When I reflect on my own life, there have certainly been times when I missed the chance to come out better than I was before. We have to make a concerted effort when faced with challenges, or they can easily just become sad stories. 

“the Baha’i writings suggests that challenges bring spiritual benefits, even though in the moment we may not be aware of them”

When things get tough, we have the opportunity to move forward instead of becoming embittered by how hard the world can be. This Bible verse says that turning to prayer is one way we can maintain hope and love even when facing distress:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6

A passage from the Baha’i writings suggests that challenges bring spiritual benefits, even though in the moment we may not be aware of them:

Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty. – Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 

We can only comprehend so much of the world. Baha’is believe that while our efforts can take us far, human beings have a limited capacity to understand the deeper spiritual realities of our existence. So, even when I can’t fully understand how an experience might lead to growth, I can trust that if I put in effort, I may be growing in ways I cannot even comprehend. 

3 Comments

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  • Graham Burgess
    Apr 05, 2020
    Thank you for this Makeena. Your articles are always well written and full of interesting insights. I learn a lot from them.
  • Jules R
    Apr 02, 2020
    Thank you for this amazing and inspiring article. We can use our experiences to grow closer to God everyday. Bless you!