Suffering and the Problem of Evil
Written by: Moojan Momen
Excesses of gluttony, lust, and greed often lead to antisocial or criminal activities, the consequences of which add to the unhappiness and suffering caused by the inability to satiate these desires. Individuals in this state cause great suffering, both to themselves and to those around them. Sometimes suffering is the result of unwise human actions. If one does not live one's life with due regard for the physical laws, one is likely to be hurt (if one jumps out of a second-story window, for example). Similarly, if human beings go against the spiritual laws that God has given, then they are likely to suffer because these spiritual laws are in accordance with the reality of things and so following them protects one from suffering.
Baha'is also believe that it is through suffering that human beings are encouraged to perfect themselves and to travel along the spiritual path. If human beings did not experience suffering, they could not fully develop virtues such as patience and fortitude. If human beings did not witness suffering in the world, then they could not manifest the virtues of kindness and compassion. Tests and tribulations test the qualities that human beings are acquiring. It is easy to be loving and beneficent toward people who are pleasant. These virtues are only truly put to the test when confronted by unpleasant people who make one suffer. Thus, overcoming or transcending tests, difficulties, and suffering are ways of both progressing spiritually and measures of how much spiritual progress has been made. The Baha'i scriptures see the world as a giant classroom in which everything is laid out to help human beings to grow and develop spiritually.
|Tests and Difficulties:|
From the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah
O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.
O SON OF MAN!
If adversity befall thee not in My path, how canst thou walk in the ways of them that are content with My pleasure? If trials afflict thee not in thy longing to meet Me, how wilt thou attain the light in thy love for My beauty?
O SON OF MAN!
My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
O SON OF BOUNTY!
Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things . . . (From the Arabic Hidden Words 48, 50, 51; Persian Hidden Words, 29)