Remember that …
the “the fasting period” is “essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul.” (1)
Change is challenging. We are rarely comfortable with the unknown. We like that which is familiar, and yet we are here to keep growing, to keep advancing in the unknown, to become the best versions of ourselves.
“Naturally there will be periods of distress and difficulty, and even severe tests; but if that person turns firmly towards the Divine Manifestation, studies carefully His Spiritual teachings and receives the blessings of the Holy Spirit, he will find that in reality these tests and difficulties have been the gifts of God to enable him to grow and develop.” (2)
Many wonder why they are tested so harshly and consistently when others around seem to not be tested at all. They view such tests as punishment for which they don’t feel they deserve. Some remark that they should just stop trying to be so good and maybe they would have fewer tests.
It may seem that way, however, but in this Divine School, tests are sent to us as a blessing and we are told that we should actually be grateful that we are the ones being tested, because tests are gifts from God to us.
I know this concept is hard to grasp, but as Christ said,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. ”(3)
“Tests are benefits from God, for which we should thank Him. Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting.”(4)
Did you hear that? Tests do not come to us by chance. They are sent to us! You didn’t necessarily attract them, nor can you escape them all! In school, we expect to be tested, but in life, people fear, shun, and hate tests. But, if we realized that these tests are sent to us, not as punishment, but instead for our perfecting, perhaps they would be more bearable.
Fortunately for our own good, we can’t escape these tests,(or opportunities for perfection). And, if we do, we are told we should pray to have them sent to us.
Now, I don’t know too many people who pray to be tested more. I jokingly remark that, “Why would I pray for tests, when they are lined up around the block awaiting their turn?”
So, stop beating yourself up wondering what you did wrong, maybe you did something right! We know that we were created to know and love God, but on this earth, we frequently get distracted. I know I do and the tests humble me.
Abdul-Baha explains that when things are good, we sometimes forget God.
“While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelm him, then will he remember his Father who is in Heaven, and who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.” (5)
Remember Abdul-Baha’s admonition?
“Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. ”(6).
Now perhaps we understand why? Fasting is more than just not eating.
Walking the spiritual path together.
1) Shoghi Effendi: (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 233
2) Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, pp. 18-19 (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 70)
3) Isaiah 55:8-13 KJV
4) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 51)
5) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 51)
6) (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 129