When Life Gets Tough



The Master at one time helped carry the coffin of a man He dearly loved to the grave site. The man had committed suicide. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘No one should injure himself on purpose of take his own life.’ Encouragingly He explained, ‘God never places a burden on us greater than we can carry. Each burden we endure is for our own good and development. Should anyone at any time encounter hard and perplexing times, he must say to himself, “This too will pass.”’ He added, ‘When experiencing difficulties, I would say to myself, “this too will pass away”, and I would become calm again.”’

(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 158)

Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you — and your unhappy mood will dissolve into a blessed, contented submission to God.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Star of the West)

As for the spiritual perfections they are man’s birthright and belong to him alone of all creation. Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy. This spiritual longing and perception belongs to all men alike, and it is my firm conviction that the Western people possess great spiritual aspiration.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 72)

When our days are drawing to a close let us think of the eternal worlds, and we shall be full of joy!

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111)

Trust in God in all matters.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 413)

The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes . . .  The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties… Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows.

  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41.)

At one time Juliet Thompson asked the Master about His daughter, Ruha Khanum, who had been very ill.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘I have put her in the hands of the Blessed Perfection, and now I don’t worry at all.’

(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 162)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent a Tablet to an American believer in which He wrote: ‘As to thy question, “Why pray? What is the wisdom thereof, for God has established everything and executes all affairs after the best order and He ordains everything according to a becoming measure and puts things in their places with the greatest propriety and perfection – therefore what is the wisdom in beseeching and supplicating and in stating one’s wants and seeking help?” Know thou, verily, it is becoming of a weak one to supplicate to the strong One and it behoveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the glorious, bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His ocean this supplication is by itself a light to his heart, an illumination to his sight, a life to his soul and an exaltation to his being. ‘Therefore during thy supplications to God and thy reciting, “Thy name is my healing,” consider how thy heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God and thy mind attracted to the kingdom of God! By these attractions one’s ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is widened the water increaseth and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one’s wants.’ One the other hand, the Master also said, ‘God will answer the prayer of every servant if that prayer is urgent.’

(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 147)

OGod!  Refresh and gladden my spirit.  Purify my heart.  Illumine my powers.  I lay all my affairs in Thy hand.  Thou art my Guide and my Refuge.  I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being.  O God!  I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me.  I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God!  Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself.  I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.


Thomas [Breakwell] wrote to the Master, happily saying that, if he were Persian, he would have chosen to be a martyr. He had been admitted to hospital, and was in the tuberculosis ward. But news from the young man continued to reach ‘Akká, conveying an ever-increasing joy, despite his suffering. Sometimes, when Dr. Khan read Thomas’s letters to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Master would remain silent. Dr. Khan knew that the ‘mysterious communion between the lover and the Beloved had no need of the spoken word.’ At other times, the Master would ask his secretary simply to convey His greetings. Although Thomas could have asked for healing, he never did, but prayed always for greater suffering. The more his illness consumed him, the greater his joy became. Hippolyte Dreyfus, who was able to visit Thomas in hospital, relates how the young Englishman spoke to the other patients enthusiastically about the Bahá’í Faith. Some of his listeners were upset by his message, others criticized it. But Thomas, unperturbed, maintained his tranquility and told them that he was not going to die, but was merely departing for the Kingdom of God, and that he would pray for them in heaven. Writing of his pain, he said: ‘Suffering is a heady wine; I am prepared to receive that bounty which is the greatest of all; torments of the flesh have enabled me to draw much nearer to my Lord. All agony notwithstanding, I wish life to endure longer, so that I may taste more of pain. That which I desire is the good-pleasure of my Lord; mention me in His presence.’

(Lakshiman-Lepain – The Life of Thomas Breakwell, p. 37-45)

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