Yearning for Certitude

Quaff from the tongue of the merciful the stream of divine mystery, and behold from the dayspring of divine utterance the unveiled splendor of the daystar of wisdom.  Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of the heart, and water them with the waters of certitude, that the hyacinths of knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the holy city of the heart.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words

The first time I willingly went to a church service — albeit to be with a beautiful friend who had suggested the idea 😉 — was the first time I realized that I was yearning for certitude. It was the Easter service at a Greek Orthodox church in Odessa, Ukraine, during my last year of studies in that most unique Soviet city… As the priest announced “Christ has risen” I looked at the nearby ladies beautifully solemn with their heads covered with lace shawls. What I saw on their faces was something I had never seen, something I had never had, something I had never experienced, something I had no idea I needed, something I desperately wanted to have — certitude! For their faces were beaming with such joy for Christ’s resurrection that only certitude — a faith with not a hint of doubt — could have given. They believed it beyond the words and you could see it in their eyes! And I wanted it! I wanted the ability to believe and trust in something I could not physically see in just that same way…

The next morning, as I was walking along the blossoming trees on my way to my friend’s dormitory, a song came to my mind, ready with its lyrics and melody, a song of a “young sapling in the orchard of humanity”. A few months later, I was sharing about this song with a wonderful person from Canada who was telling me about the Baha’i Faith and who commented on how this metaphor of the sapling reminded her of the Baha’i Writings:

Ye are the saplings which the hand of Loving-kindness hath planted in the soil of mercy, and which the showers of bounty have made to flourish.
(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 25)

O Peerless Lord! Be Thou a shelter for this poor child and a kind and forgiving Master unto this erring and unhappy soul. O Lord! Though we are but worthless plants, yet we belong to Thy garden of roses. Though saplings without leaves and blossoms, yet we are a part of Thine orchard. Nurture this plant then through the outpourings of the clouds of Thy tender mercy and quicken and refresh this sapling through the reviving breath of Thy spiritual springtime. Suffer him to become heedful, discerning and noble, and grant that he may attain eternal life and abide in Thy Kingdom for evermore.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

My silent prayer 19 years ago had been answered through my introduction to the Baha’i Faith

But as Adib Taherzadeh explains in his talks on “Drawing Nigh to Baha’u’llah“, the gift of faith is something that should be nurtured, protected, cared for. Because there will be time when it will get tested…

During the last week I went through such a sequence of tests and difficulties — physical, emotional, spiritual — that I felt that my own faith was being tested. Now, trials and tribulations have been nothing new to me in the past two years but I have learned to pray for deliverance (and admittedly a lot of the times for a certain outcome) that I know, one way or another things eventually get better.

On Tuesday morning, as I was preparing for my morning prayers, I had this sudden awareness that all of these tests have been with the sole purpose of cultivating my faith and transforming it into certitude. And because I clearly did not have certitude, I had to pray for it.

The result has been nothing short of remarkable. Within hours I was able to withstand with serenity a tumultuous turn of events that spoke loud and clear that this is all part of God’s plan for me, even though I have no idea what its outcome will be. Then after work, at a prayer meeting, I met two wonderful people whose sincere interest in the Baha’i Faith gave me a new inspiration for the direction of the Prayer Station and my own service to the Faith! Praying for certitude indeed works!

O Lord my God!  O Thou Helper of the feeble, Succorer of the poor and Deliverer of the helpless who turn unto Thee.

With utmost lowliness I raise my suppliant hands to Thy kingdom of beauty and fervently call upon Thee with my inner tongue, saying:  O God, my God!  Aid me to adore Thee, strengthen my loins to serve Thee; assist me by Thy grace in my servitude to Thee; suffer me to remain steadfast in my obedience to Thee; pour forth upon me the liberal effusions of Thy bounty, let the glances of the eye of Thy loving-kindness be directed towards me, and immerse me in the ocean of Thy forgiveness.  Grant that I may be confirmed in my allegiance to Thy Faith, and bestow upon me a fuller measure of certitude and assurance, that I may wholly dispense with the world, may turn my face with entire devotion towards Thy face, be reinforced by the compelling power of proofs and testimonies, and, invested with majesty and power, may pass beyond every region of heaven and earth.  Verily Thou art the Merciful, the All-Glorious, the Kind, the Compassionate.


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