Glimmers: When Life’s Tests Are Severe

In the writings of the Baha’i Faith, we read:

“Naturally there will be periods of distress and difficulty, and even severe test; 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.”
From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, pp. 18-19, Compilations, Lights of Guidance

(Wikipedia image: Hurricane)

Bahá’u’lláh tells us that fire strengthens steel. Animals become stronger when they have to protect themselves against predators or harsh environments. People question their purpose when they suffer adversity. The best outcome is that they become stronger and more directed.

Evolution was designed as a scheme to improve life because living things had to adapt to severe tests. Otherwise, the earth would still be populated by nothing but algae. After the first simple amino acids began to organize themselves, they also had to protect themselves. Thus, they evolved protective coatings constructed of more complex amino acids. Formerly inert chemicals and elements acquired the property of will. They became a purposeful collection. They developed ways to pass on their successes and continue the phenomena of life. Thus, stresses and adversity are essential to all life at the most fundamental level — the level of the meaning of life, which is transcendence. Only humans are endowed with the ability to transcend physical adversity and become the something else that is their destiny and and their purpose.

The Elk grew strong because it had to struggle with the Wolf. The mouse grew stealthy and fast because of the Owl. The religions of the world grew stronger after they were persecuted.

“Know, moreover, that it is through such words that God proveth His servants and sifteth them, separating the believer from the infidel, the detached from the worldly, the pious from the profligate, the doer of good from the worker of iniquity, and so forth. Thus hath the Dove of holiness proclaimed: ‘Do men think when they say ‘We believe’ they shall be let alone and not be put to proof?'”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries

“If people are fundamentally spiritual beings, why do we begin our lives in the physical world?”
The Purpose of Physical Reality by John Hatcher

“And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of our beloved Master, who, in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the ‘severe mental tests’ that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West — tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.”

The Cause of Human Suffering

“And as to the world’s evil plight, we need but recall the writings and sayings of Bahá’u’lláh, who, more than fifty years ago, declared in terms prophetic the prime cause of the ills and sufferings of mankind, and set forth their true and divine remedy. ‘Should the Lamp of Religion be hidden,’ He declares, ‘Chaos and confusion will ensue.’ How admirably fitting and applicable are these words to the present state of mankind!

“Ours is then the duty and privilege to labor, by day and by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-men, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interest, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world.
–Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration

Glimmers are subsections of larger ideas. I don’t intend them to be complete. They are thoughts that cross my mind from time to time.


  1. Kathryn Darrah · August 31, 2008

    Thank you, Cary! As so often happens, this arrived precisely on time – as I had just finished saying much of this to a dear friend who is suffering. I’m glad I can point her to this, to read for herself what the Writings say.

  2. Kristine Amodeo · November 19, 2008

    Thanks Cary ~ Found your Blog through the BWG list. Could probably sit here reading for days!

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