I have been pondering the subject of tests and difficulties lately and wanted to share some thoughts with you.
In this life, anything that gives us an opportunity to detach is a gift because the purpose of life is to advance on the path of detachment. The more detached we are, the closer we are to God and the more attached we are to anything other than God, the farther we are away from Him. What is important is how we react to life’s events and particularly to difficulties that we face. Tests don’t come to us by chance. “They are sent to us… for our own perfecting” writes Abdu’l-Baha. The significance of our lives is not found in the events of the physical world, but rather in how we use the challenges and opportunities that life presents for our spiritual development. And once we are given a test, if we keep failing, it returns once again with greater force until we pass it!
Personally I find that when I have challenges, I take refuge in my music – either playing the piano, composing or singing. It takes me to another realm and brings me such calm and fulfillment and allows my spirit to soar. And interestingly, those are the times that I create some of the best melodies. It’s like traveling to a different world where I’m surrounded only with music – it definitely uplifts my soul and brings me more clarity and perspective on life. I know everyone handles their challenges differently. I would love to know what methods you use and what uplifts you when you have difficulties.
Below is a photo of the cover of an album I released on the theme of tests and difficulties in 2007. The album is entitled, ‘Fire and Gold’.
Quote of the Day: ”We should not, however, forget that an essential characteristic of this world is hardship and tribulation and that it is by overcoming them that we achieve our moral and spiritual development…sorrow is like furrows, the deeper they go, the more plentiful is the fruit we obtain.” – Shoghi Effendi
“We must always look ahead and seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past. Failures, tests, and trials, if we use them correctly, can become the means of purifying our spirits, strengthening our characters, and enable us to rise to greater heights of service.” – Shoghi Effendi
thx for sharing!
very inspiring really ^_^
Very touching post Elika. If there is one thing we all have in common it is tests and difficulties. It is important to remember that the purpose of this world is not for this world; it is for the next. We are travelers, picking up the things we need for where we are going. I love the picture you added too… brings to mind a favorite story of mine, Jonathan Livingston Seagull… keep aspiring!
I hope you will forgive me for writing such a long response- but your blog really struck a chord
Like every soul on the planet I experienced various tests and challenges, but if its ok I would like to share some learning that I have gained from one of these As you know Elika, i have a physical disability and as a result from the age of 11-16 I went through severe bullying at school. It was a constant occurence for me during this period, and every day I went to school at that time I felt like going to prison. At times, the abuse made me feel less than human – I felt worthless and like many victims of abuse/bullying – I felt utterly utterly lonely during these years. It took me the better part of my 20’s to heal from this experience but here are the blessings I was given as a result.
1) As you rightly said if we remember to turn to God during tests then He will not forget us. I had not found the Bahai Faith at that point, but i was raised Catholic and every night to survive , to give me the strengh to keep going to school so I could go to university, I would sit up and read the Bible and say the rosary til I fell asleep amd ask God to give me strength. And He did. And because of this God ceased to be just my Creator – He became my true friend. I could go through the whole day feeling lonley, and yet know that I was never alone because God loved me. (as He loves everyone) And I am SO grateful because if I had not felt His love so deeply then – I might never have found Bahaullah.
2. The other learning the experience taught me was this: that the answer to everything, is LOVE. People have written songs/poems/stories about it for centuries – but love is the sum of all healing. During the time I was bullied – I felt such a lack of love from people around me -and at times so unlovable – that now i have come through that – I know that that loving others is the most IMPORTANT thing we can do on this earth. It is the most POWERFUL thing we can do. And the best thing about it is -we can do it for free. It doesn’t cost money and it immesurably versatile. We can give it in a smile. We can give it in a hug. We give it just by listening, or by praying for another. Love, if given unconditionally can SAVE a soul. And each we offer love, we make a difference.
I completely undertand what you said about singing – with all my heart I love creative writing – but if i am going through testing times – then first thing my heart wants to do is write. I think its cos suffering detaches us from our bodies and puts us in touch with our souls – and art (like prayer) is a pure expression of our souls. When everything around us is bringing us down art can elevate us, like a hand that reaches in and pulls you out of deep water – and helps the soul to remain in the Light. Most of the worlds great composers had very hard lives, amd yet they created the most BEAUTIFUL music, and I often think of the African slaves – how through unimaginable difficulties and subhuman conditions – they found nobility in song and in praising God.
The LAST thing I feel I’ve learnt about tests is that is that while tests are personal, we are never really going through them alone. , but I’m a Bahai, and I truely believe that spiritually, we all of us one -and every soul on the planet is connected. So my own feeling is that, spiritually speaking when an individual goes through a test – every soul HAS THE CAPACITY to learn from that individual’s experience. And every individual has the capacity to teach the human race something valuable as a result of a test they have had. One of poignent example of this that comes to my mind, is the suffering and injustice facing the beloved Friends in Iran – because of what they are going through – and because of the nobility with which they face it – collectively are giving a thousand lessons to the rest of the world – lessons of love, of patience, of steadfastness, of courage, of forgiveness, of unconditional kindness – amd we owe to them, to take heed of these lessons, as much as we can, in all our daily lives, so that their suffering may not be in vain.
Thank you for sharing, dear Elika. And YES, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an AWESOME book! 🙂 Loved that one!
Thanks Dan and Sarmad!
So glad you enjoyed the photo Earl – and you mentioned an excellent point that these tests are to prepare us for something greater than this world…
Dear Nadia – thank you so much for sharing your personal story of challenges in your life and the lessons you have learned from them. You have endured a lot dear but have used those difficulties as stepping stones in your life. How admirable! And you’re absolutely right – love is such a healer. I’m so glad you mentioned the Bahais in Iran and that their suffering are examples and lessons of love, patience, steadfastness, courage, forgiveness and much more… Thanks again for sharing such deep insights.
Thank you, and Nadia, for your selfless and inspiring willingness to share your spiritual challenges and your triumphs. You are an example to me, with your courage, your ability to discern and remain steadfast to the spiritual core of life.
I am listening to Fire and Gold right now, and the free gift songs you gave us.
I wish you all the best with the concert with Cheng Lin. I wish I could be there!
Much love and respect,
Thank you Sallyanne for your sincere words of encouragement. We are all learning and finding courage to do the right thing and fulfil our highest aspiration. Yes the concert will be amazing. Hope someone video tapes it!
My Dearest one Elika
how precious and true are these words of yours and the ones from the Bahai writings. I gain much solace at the readings, prayers and meditations of Baha’u’llah and generally from all the Scriptures of the Bahai Writings. They give me the focus I need daily and especially in times of trials. They help me to spur on the charger to keep going with love, patience detachment and perseverance. Now that i am older am able to see the fruits. i just wish when i were your age i were more detached, patient, persevering and had more faith as in the end it all works out for the best as Only He knows what’s best for us. So ultimately we have to be resigned to His Will and just know that whatever we’re going through is meant to be, and have faith that there is this Almighty Power that is sustaining us and helping us get through it all…
So excited about the concert. What a wonderful opportunity yet again! Tried to comment but it is denied! praying all goes well as i know it will.
lots of love always and forever
Thanks for your comments Jalehjoon. Yes it is true that ultimately we have to be resigned to His Will and know that what He wants for us is what is best. The trick is knowing what He wants for us isn’t it?! 🙂
I appreciate very much dear Friend, for sharing this very inspiring post! I’ve learnt a lot from it.
This is one wonderful way to serve the people! So, keep doing:)
A Bahai from Mongolia
Thank you for a great post.
My pleasure dear Renee and Bernardo. Thanks for all your support.