How Are Devotees Supposed To Handle Personal Misfortune and Tragedy

[Shri Krishna]“Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura explains in this regard that the very word harih means ‘one who takes away.’ If one connects himself with Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord takes away all his miseries, and in the beginning the Lord also superficially appears to take away all his material possessions, reputation, education and beauty.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 8.19.32 Purport)

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“You would have to agree that the general expectation with following spiritual life is that things will get better. I only approach the spiritual master, the guru, because something is wrong. If I were happy with the repeating days, months, and years, there would be no reason to listen to something new.

“There is a hole in my life. An unspoken void. Success in the material sense has not been enough. In fact, I almost feel worse now than I did before. I ask what is the point to everything. I am not really sure who I am. I feel compelled to pose the same questions from Sanatana Gosvami delivered so humbly before Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in that one meeting.

“As I am fortunate enough to meet the guru and begin to implement significant changes to the way I live, I should see an improvement. This is the expectation. What happens if things actually get worse? How are we supposed to handle that? Is that not an invitation for rejection, for cursing at the Almighty and turning in the other direction?”

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that if a person encounters difficulties, insignificant or severe, while following through on the duties of bhakti-yoga, they should consider that situation to be a gift from above.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Shri Krishna is placing them into a field of austerities and penances for a purpose. That weakened state is a way to increase the understanding. It is helping to make progress towards realization of the ultimate goal of life.

This should not be difficult to comprehend. If suddenly I lose personal beauty as a result of strictly following the regulative principles passed down for my spiritual benefit, then I should look upon that loss as favorable. It means that maybe the amount of hair on my head is not that important. Why should it matter if others find me attractive? That is not the goal of life.

If my party loses the most recent election, which was hotly contested and involved mountains of fraud and corruption, I will be incredibly sad and worried. Perhaps that is not the goal of life, to ensure that the favored politician or party remains in power. I will have to leave this world one day, regardless of who is in power in this or any other country in the world.

One of the names for the Supreme Lord is Hari. One of the meanings to this word is, “one who takes away.” The personal God is so kind that after approaching Him directly, He may actually go against my wishes. He might take away everything so dear to me, in a seemingly cruel and heartless way.

[Shri Krishna]This is actually endless compassion and mercy. Hari places me in difficulty so that it will be easier to remember Him, correcting my mistake of following the erroneous directions I accepted on the map of life. I will remember the pain and heartache of deep association with the material world. If I am intelligent, I will look to avoid it in the future. I will try to stay happy and blissful in serving the one person who is always looking out for me, who is always my best friend, and who will never leave me no matter what happens.

In Closing:

Austerities now in force,
Correction for proper course.

Into these difficulties found,
Assisting in no longer bound.

Because liberation slated for me,
Not again this world to see.

Hari in oversight not to relent,
In spite of my wayward bent.

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