Illnesses And Afflictions
We should point out that however undesirable and even appalling in appearance, afflictions, and illnesses usually bear good results. Like sometimes punishing our children in order to train them or having a gangrenous limb amputated, or obtaining medicine from the poison of snakes, most of the afflictions or illnesses we have to suffer may usually end in good results.
The swooping of the sparrow hawk contributes to the alertness and evolves the skills of escape of the sparrow. Some might suffer harm from rain or electricity or fire, but no one would therefore curse rain or electricity or fire. Fasting may be difficult for most people but, as a result, it provides energy, activity and resistance for the body. The immune system of a child usually gains strength through illnesses. Gymnastics are not easy, but they are almost essential to the health and strength of the body. So, it is through, besides worship and meditation, illnesses, sufferings and hardships that a man’s spirit is refined and acquires the state deserving Paradise. It is God’s custom to give a big reward for a little sacrifice. Hardships and sufferings cause a man’s promotion to higher spiritual degrees and will be returned with such generous rewards in the other world as a man cannot expect or imagine. For this reason, the Messengers were subject to the most grievous of hardships and sufferings and they have been followed by saintly people and other believers each according to the degree of his belief.
Hardships, sufferings and calamities cause the forgiveness of a believer’s sins and warn him to remain alert to sins and the seductions of Satan and his carnal self. They also help him to be appreciative of God’s blessings and open for him the way to gratitude. Also, they urge the rich and healthy to be concerned with the pitiable conditions of all the ill and poor and help them. The one who never suffers hunger cannot fully appreciate the conditions in which the hungry live. Nor can one who has never fallen ill be aware of what the ill suffer. So, illnesses, calamities and hardships may help the establishment of closer relations between different sections of people.
Calamities and sufferings increase people in resistance against the hardships of life and train them in perseverance and endurance. They also constitute a criterion to separate the enduring and sincere ones from those of weak character in supporting a cause.
Illnesses and afflictions are exceptions in a man’s life
Another point to emphasize is that no one should have the right to complain about afflictions striking him. For, if compared with the periods of life spent in good health, comfort and happiness, the moments when one suffers from illnesses or afflictions are not usually worth mention. Also, we usually live heedlessly of the bounteous we are constantly provided with. For example, the sun rises every day and sends us its heat and light for nothing in return.
In addition, we are never deprived of air, which is so essential to our lives, and we pay nothing in return for it. Third, all the ‘natural’ events necessary for the ‘water’ to fall from the heavens take place without any contribution from us. So, what a man should do is to thank God for all these and other similar bounties, the least of which he is unable to provide for himself, and for the greatest part of his life, which he spends in health and comfort, and not to complain to God about the moments of his life spent in illness or hardship, or about the lack of some additional blessings which he is unable to obtain.
Is it Good That All Events Are Predetermined by Destiny?
It has been proved in this section that whatever is determined by Destiny is good, and that even if some events appear to be evil, they are actually good, and ugly things are in essence beautiful. If this is opposed by arguing that calamities and misfortunes that befall man contradict this, the answer will be as follows:
Even though you, my carnal soul and my friend, feel agonies as a result of your strong connections with existence and affection toward beings, existence is entirely good since it generates every beauty and perfection, whilst non-existence is purely evil since all sins and misfortunes originate in it. Since non-existence is evil, those circumstances, which have a suggestion of non-existence in them, contain some element of evil. Therefore, life, the most brilliant light of existence, grows in vigor as it revolves in different circumstances. It is purified and perfected through experience of contradictory events and happenings, and it produces the desired results through taking on different qualities, and thus gives testimony to the manifestations of the Divine Names. It is for this purpose that living creatures go through many states, and experience situations in which they suffer misfortunes and hardships, so purifying their lives. During each one of these hardships, they renew the light of their existence, and depart from the negative darkness of non-existence. Idleness, inertia and monotony are in quality and as conditions all some aspects of non-existence. Even the greatest pleasure is reduced to nothing by monotony.
In short: Since life displays the manifestations of God’s Beautiful Names, everything, which occurs in it, is beautiful. Let us suppose that an extremely rich and infinitely skilled clothes designer employs an ordinary man as a model to display his works of art in return for wages. He requires the man to dress up in a jeweled and artistically fashioned garment, which illustrates the works of his art and his invaluable wealth. He works the garment on the man, giving it various forms. In order to display every variety of his art, he cuts it, changes it, and lengthens and shortens it. How bizarre, then, it would be for this employee to say, ‘You are causing me trouble. You are making me bow and stand up. By cutting and shortening this garment which makes me more beautiful, you are spoiling my beauty’! Does he have the right to tell him, ‘You are acting unkindly and unfairly?’
In the same way, the Creator causes living creatures to put on the garment of existence, bejeweled with senses, and reason, intellect and heart. He cuts out the pattern of that garment to give it new shapes, and adds to it beauties, and displays the magnificence of His Beautiful Names. Those circumstances, which appear to cause misfortune and pain, are actually flashes of the Divine Wisdom, which reflect rays of compassion and contain subtle beauties.
By M. Fethullah Gulen