Importance Of Patience On Misfortunes
Just as gratitude increases Divine bounty, so too complaint increases misfortune, and removes all occasion for compassion.
During World War One, a blessed person in Erzurum was afflicted with an awesome disease. I went to visit him and he said to me complaining bitterly:
“I have not been able to place my head on the pillow and sleep for a hundred nights.”
I was much grieved. Suddenly a thought came to me and I said:
“Brother, the hundred difficult days you have spent are now just like one hundred happy days. Do not think of them and complain; rather look at them and be grateful. As for future days, since they have not yet come, place your trust in your Compassionate and Merciful Sustainer. Do not weep before being beaten, do not be afraid of nothing, do not give non-being the color of being. Think of the present hour; your power of patient endurance is enough for this hour. Do not act like the maddened commander who expects reinforcement on his right wing by an enemy force deserting to join him from his left, and then begins to disperse his forces in the center to the left and the right, before the enemy has joined him on the right. The enemy then destroys his center, left weak, with a minimal force. Brother, do not be like him. Mobilize all your strength for this present hour, and think of Divine Mercy, reward in the Hereafter, and how your brief and transient life is being transformed into a long and eternal form. Instead of complaining bitterly, give joyful thanks.”
Much relieved, he said,
“Praise and thanks be to God, my disease is now a tenth of what it was before.“
The power of patient endurance given to man by God Almighty is adequate to every misfortune, unless squandered on baseless fears. But through the predominance of delusion, man’s neglect and his imagining this transient life to be eternal, he squanders his power of endurance on the past and the future. His endurance is not equal to the misfortunes of the present, and he begins to complain. It is as if he were complaining of the God Almighty to men. In a most unjustified and even lunatic fashion, he complains and demonstrates his lack of patience.
If the day that is past held misfortune, the distress is now gone, and only tranquillity remains; the pain has vanished and the pleasure in its cessation remains; the trouble is gone, and the reward remains. Hence one should not complain but give thanks for enjoyment. One should not resent misfortune, but love it. The transient life of the past comes to be counted as an eternal and blessed life because of misfortune. To think upon past pain with one’s fancy and then to waste part of one’s patience is lunacy.
As far as days yet to come are concerned, since they have not yet come, to think now of the illness or misfortune to be borne during them and display impatience, is also foolishness. To say to oneself “Tomorrow or the day after I will be hungry and thirsty” and constantly to drink water and eat bread today, is pure madness. Similarly, to think of misfortunes and sicknesses yet in the future but now non-existent, to suffer them already, to show impatience and to oppress oneself without any compulsion, is such stupidity that it no longer deserves pity and compassion.
Remedy of misfortunes
Physical misfortunes grow when they are seen to be large, and shrink when they are seen to be small. For example, a dream enters one’s vision at night. If one pays it attention it swells up and grows; if one does not, it disappears. So too if one attempts to ward off an attacking swarm of bees, they will become more aggressive, whereas if one pays them no attention they will disperse. Thus if one regards physical misfortunes as great and grants them importance, they will grow, and because of anxiety pass from the body and strike root in the heart. The result will then be an inward affliction on which the outward misfortune fastens to perpetuate itself. But if the anxiety is removed by contentment with the Divine Decree and reliance on God, the physical misfortune will gradually decrease, dry up and vanish, just like a tree whose roots have been severed.
If in single-handed combat one smiles at an awesome enemy, his enmity will be changed to conciliatoriness; his hostility will become a mere joke, will shrink and disappear. If one confronts misfortune with reliance on God the result will be similar.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi