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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 95-96

Deliverance from Calamities

According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause.
The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however, but educative and remedial. It is God’s Voice proclaiming to man that he has strayed from the right path. If the suffering is terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more terrible, for “the wages of sin is death.”
Just as calamity is due to disobedience, so deliverance from calamity can be obtained only be obedience. There is no chance or uncertainty about the matter. Turning from God inevitably brings disaster, and turning to God as inevitably brings blessing.
As the whole of humanity is one organism, however, the welfare of each individual depends not only on his own behavior, but on that of his neighbors. If one does wrong, all suffer in greater or less degree; while if one does well, all benefit. Each has to bear his neighbor’s burdens, to some extent, and the best of mankind are those who bear the biggest burdens. The saints have always suffered abundantly; the Prophets have suffered superlatively. Bahá’u’lláh says in the Book of Íqán:—“You must undoubtedly have been informed of the tribulations, the poverty, the ills, and the degradation that have befallen every Prophet of God and His companions. You must have heard how the heads of their followers were sent as presents unto different cities. …”—Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 73.
This is not because the saints and Prophets have merited 96 punishment above other men. Nay, they often suffer for the sins of others, and choose to suffer, for the sake of others. Their concern is for the world’s welfare, not for their own. The prayer of the true lover of humanity is not that he, as an individual, may escape poverty, ill-health or disaster, but that mankind may be saved from ignorance and error and the ills that inevitably flow from them. If he wishes health or wealth for himself, it is in order that he may serve the Kingdom, and if physical health and wealth are denied him, he accepts his lot with “radiant acquiescence,” well knowing that there is a right wisdom in whatever befalls him in the Path of God.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:—
Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance; they are sent by the Divine Mercy for our perfecting. When grief and sorrow come, then will a man remember his Father Who is in Heaven, Who is able to deliver him from his humiliations. The more a man is chastened, the greater is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him.
At first sight it may seem very unjust that the innocent should suffer for the guilty, but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá assures us that the injustice is only apparent and that, in the long run, perfect justice prevails. He writes:—
As to the subject of babes and children and weak ones who are afflicted by the hands of the oppressors … for those souls there is a recompense in another world … that suffering is the greatest mercy of God. Verily that mercy of the Lord is far better than all the comfort of this world and the growth and development appertaining to this place of mortality.