Tests

One day, when Lua Getsinger was in ‘Akká she noticed a Western woman was telling ‘Abdu’l-Bahá all about her troubles. This was a strange thing to do for usually when people enter the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá they are so filled with the outpouring of His radiant love that they think only of their blessings. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with great kindness listened for half an hour to the western woman’s troubles; they were really not very big troubles. At last he arose, and said he had another engagement and must be going. “But there,” he said, pointing out of the window, “goes a man whom I will bring in to see you. His name is Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí. We call him the ‘Angel of Mount Carmel‘. He walks on earth but he lives in heaven. He has had many troubles and he will tell you about them.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went out, but quickly returned with Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí whom he presented to the woman, and then departed.
The “Angel of Mount Carmel” with great humility and sweetness of manner began to talk with the woman of the luminous century in which we live and the divine age that is to be. She listened for a while, impatiently, and at last broke in with, “But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said you would tell me about your troubles.” Mírzá Haydar ‘Alí looked up in amazement.
"Troubles?” he replied, “why madam, I never had any troubles, I don’t know what troubles are.” (The Bahá’í Magazine (Star of the West), vol. 22, no. 8, November 1931)


After dinner, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke of tests: “Even the sword", He said, “is no test of the Persian believers. They are given a chance to recant; they cry out instead: Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá! Then the sword is raised", He shot up his arm as though brandishing a sword – “they cry out all the more, Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá! But some of the people here are tested if I don’t say how do you do?”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 148)


He knew well that contentment and happiness must often be forged out of sorrow and grief. It has already been amply shown that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not seek an easy course through life. He accepted hard knocks graciously. He never flinched at that which was hard to accomplish. He performed work in the spirit of service, knowing it was deemed worship. Complaining was foreign to His nature. Contentment in the will of God was natural to His spirit.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 165)


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)


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)


Howard Colby Ives struggled for several months to understand the reality of Abdu’l Bahá’s message. He was the pastor of the Brotherhood Unitarian church in Jersey City. He had organized the church in mid-1911, but by late 1912, the church was in financial trouble and he was forced to close it. Ives wrote to Abdu’l Bahá about this and about his growing interest in the Faith. The Master turned Ives anxiousness about the failure of his church into opportunity: “In brief: be thou not unhappy. This event has happened so that thou mayest become freed of all other at occupations, day and night thou mayest call the people to the Kingdom; spread the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh; inaugurate the Era of the New Life; promulgate the reality, and be sanctified and purified from all save God. It is my hope that thou mayest become as such.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 67)


On the third day, the guards were changed, and new ones came with camels for us to ride. But chained together as we were, our feet in one stock and our wrists joined by chains, how could we ride on camels? The guards were at a loss for what to do and how to carry us to the next destination. Eventually they brought some long pieces of strong, white cloth. They placed the hands and feet of each pair of us on the saddle, one person hanging on one side of the camel, and the other on the other side. Then they tied our hanging bodies to the camels with the white cloths. A more torturous way to travel cannot be imagined! Five or six times during the short journey they made the camels kneel down, and we were untied and permitted to have a little rest. The guards apologized to us, saying that previously they had taken a group of thieves and murderers to the Sudan in chains, but that these others had to walk all the way through the desert. Ja‘far Pasha had instructed them to allow us to ride, and they could not think of any other way. Although we were in great pain and torture, as we watched each other hanging from the camels, the sight was so ridiculous that we could not help laughing.
(Stories for the Delight of Hearts: The Memoirs of Hají Mírzá Haydar-Alí, p.46-7)


In the story which follows as an example, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in response to an emotional plea from an older believer Aqa Riday-i-Qannad, said,
"Yes, in the path of the Blessed Beauty one must drink heartily from the overflowing cup of difficulties and afflictions in order to experience its consummate intoxicating effect. One type of adversity only does not have the same effect; it does not bestow that inebriating pleasure. Wines of diverse flavours must be consumed in this divine banquet, until one is utterly intoxicated."
He uttered these words with such joy and ardour that every atom of our beings soared with a sense of ecstasy and rapture. Then He added, ‘But you have never attended a drinking party. To get completely drunk and ultimately lose all sense of himself, a drinker mixes his drinks. .. . We, too, must drink various tastes from the cup of tribulation.” Suddenly, in a booming voice He asked, Jináb-i-Khán, is that not so?"
All eyes were focused on me. And I without a moment’s hesitation replied,
"Yes, Beloved, that is so. By the way, they drink something else too."
"What is that, then?” asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
"They mix wine and whisky and say, we are drinking ‘wineky‘!"
Suddenly His laughter rang out, His tearful eyes looked heavenward, and with a smile He said, “We, too, as the Khán says, drink wineky, drink wineky!”
(Memories of Nine Years in Akká, by Dr. Youness Afroukhteh, p. 184)


One day in London the Master gave His listeners an unusual, imaginative, yet realistic dialogue between the Prophets and men: ‘Always, man has confronted the Prophets with this: “We are enjoying ourselves, and living according to our own opinions and desires. We ate; we slept; we sang; we danced. We had no fear of God, no hope of Heaven; we liked what we were doing, we had our own way. And then you came. You took away our pleasures. You told us now of the wrath of God, again of the fear of punishment and the hope of reward. You upset our good way of life.” ‘The Prophets of God have always replied: “You were content to stay in the animal world, We wanted to make you human beings. You were dark, We wanted you illumined; you were dead, We wanted you alive. You were earthly, We wanted you heavenly."’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 141)


I had in mind that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would give me the honor of … calling together the great conclave which would elect the Universal House of Justice. And I thought in His Will and Testament that that was probably what He was instructing be done.’ ‘But…instead of that I found that I was appointed the Guardian of the Cause of God… . “I didn’t want to be the Guardian. I knew what it meant. I knew that my life as a human being was over. I didn’t want it, and I didn’t want to face it. So as you’ll remember, I left the Holy Land. And I went up into the mountains of Switzerland, and I fought with myself until I conquered myself. Then I came back and I turned myself over to God, and I was the Guardian.”
(Shoghi Effendi’s remarks to Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas)