Struggle Makes Us Strong
Once upon a time, there was a farmer who took good care of his land. However, he was frustrated because no matter how much effort he put into growing his crops, their success depended on the amount of rain that fell that season, or whether there was a hurricane, drought, or infestation of locusts. He became so frustrated that he went to the Lord and told him that he, the Lord, was doing a terrible job of managing the world. He told God that he should be ashamed of himself for planning so badly. He told him that there was unnecessary suffering in the world and it was all God’s fault. The farmer then said, but if you listen to my advice, at least no one in your creation would need to suffer from hunger.
He then told the Lord that if he would guarantee a year without extreme weather and enough sun and rain, then he, the farmer, would guarantee that hunger would disappear and people would have enough to eat. The Lord said no. He said, “Live in my will.” The farmer argued and argued, and finally the Lord agreed to allow one year with ideal circumstances for growing. The farmer said that he would work hard to fulfill his part of the bargain.
It was the most perfect year. The weather was beautiful, there was just enough rain and there were no extremes of heat or frost. The farmer worked hard and his crops thrived. They looked healthy and fruitful with the wheat golden and tall. So again, he went to the Lord and told him that the harvest would be bountiful. He said that there would be enough grain for ten years of bread and that no one would go hungry.
God said, “Show me.” The farmer then cut a stalk of wheat and opened a sheath to show the Lord the goodness that was inside. But the kernel was small and wrinkled and half the size of a normal one. The farmer was stunned. He exclaimed, “How could this happen?” God then said that because there were no challenging or adverse circumstances, the wheat did not have to struggle to survive. It became weak instead of strong, pretty on the outside but stunted on the inside.
We are like that kernel of wheat. We need challenging circumstances in life in order to grow and mature. If life is too easy, we become lazy and complacent. Mistakes and suffering are our bad weather and scorching sun. They give us the necessary experiences that help us to understand who we are. The pain we feel from challenging karmas is what makes us better human beings. If our life were too easy, then we would expect that life would always be this way, uneventful and smooth. Then, when something challenging would happen, we would not have the strength to adjust to the event. Even worse, we would be shocked when we have to face ill health or when a loved one dies. We would not have the maturity and perspective gained from adjusting to the storms of life.
A friend once said that he became the positive adult that he is now because of the death of his brother when he was eleven years old. His brother suffered greatly and his death was a release from that suffering. It was also the most painful experience of my friend’s life. However, he is also grateful, as it set him on the journey that led him to become a satsangi. He wanted to understand why there was so much suffering in the world. His answers and comfort came from the teachings and the Master.
By accepting his brother’s death he took baby steps in learning to live in God’s will, in accepting the bad weather of life. Every one of us needs challenges in order to find our inner strength. Positivity and hope come from accepting that everything that happens to us in life is for our good. There are no good karmas or bad karmas. The karmic continuum is a constant opportunity to learn and mature. We realize that life is filled with difficulties and that acceptance of these shifts in karma, whether challenging or easy, brings us contentment and balance in any situation life throws at us. We realize everything that happens is inevitable and are all gifts from him. These gifts are opportunities to grow, opportunities to mature. No karma is a punishment. It is the result of actions from the past, nothing more and nothing less.
The Lord has only our best interest at heart. He is all love. His love manifests inside us as the support and strength we experience during the storms of our karmic drama. We realize the proof of the teachings by staying even-keeled and contented in the midst of difficult circumstances. The Master is at the heart of our teachings. He gives us strength. In his Shabd form he is the power of love inside us. He is encouragement, grace, and love.
The farmer had it wrong. He thought he could change the fundamental order of life, the cycle of pleasure and suffering. He felt he knew what we needed, that he knew our needs better than God. However, he learned that the divine plan is one that slowly but steadily brings us closer to eternal joy. We need disappointments and challenges in order to realize that the foundation of the creation is hope and love. Life is perfect as it is. There is no need to be angry or frustrated with our circumstances. Our circumstances give us the perfect opportunity to learn and mature.
Now we can relax and enjoy the journey. Living in His will doesn’t have to be a challenge or an exercise in discipline. It can be a joy, a pleasure.