Bahai News - SAVING GRACE, SAVING WORDS: Holy books contain encouragement and inspiration for difficult times

Holy books contain encouragement and inspiration for difficult times

By HELEN T. GRAY - The Kansas City Star
Date: 04/14/00 22:15

JoAnna Carpenter's husband had undergone brain surgery that afternoon and was having a bad night of seizures. She paced back and forth, the dim lights in the hospital waiting room reflected her fading hope.

"I was thinking what a terrible night this had been," the Overland Park woman said.

Then as she glanced out the window, she saw the first blush of sunlight over a grove of trees. A verse from Psalm 30:5 came to mind -- ... weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

"I thought: `The night is passed. This is a new day, and things will be better.' "

For thousands of years, words, phrases, expressions and Scriptures have sustained us.

When we face death.

When we are afflicted.

When life takes unexpected, ugly turns.

Through despair, shattered dreams, fear, anguish, doubt.

When we grasp for hope.

A word comes. An old saying is recalled. Our eyes fall upon a verse. And somehow it is just what we need, for just that time.

Familiar words

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Diane Cheek's grandmother wrote this verse in the Bible she gave her two years before her grandmother died. The Christmas present hadn't meant a lot to the 26-year-old at the time. Five years later, lying in a hospital bed critically ill, Cheek could sense her grandmother saying those words.

"I had a peace, and I knew I would be all right," said Cheek, an Overland Park speech therapist. "But not just in big things, (but) in those everyday times we need to trust in God."

Since then she has given Bibles to her three sons, and she has written the same Scripture passage in their Bibles.

The 23rd Psalm is the familiar passage that Joan McCleery of Gardner in Johnson County associates with God's protection. In 1956 in Blackwell, Okla., she, her pastor husband and their little boy were on their way home in a brand-new Buick when a tornado lifted the car, slammed it down and lifted it up again.

"My husband was saying he had no control over the car, and we thought we were going to be killed," McCleery said. "That's when he started quoting the 23rd Psalm, and when he got to verse four (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me ...), a tree fell on the car and held it."

The family lost everything. Their home also had been destroyed. "But praise God; he protected us," McCleery said.

Words that bring understanding to perplexing situations

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Widowed at the age of 27 and left to raise three small children, Linda Adams of Lenexa asked God "Why?" Why, she wanted to know, had her life turned this way.

The verse from Isaiah helped her to understand that God's plans for her life may be different from hers and that she should trust God's plans.

"I felt an immediate peace and assurance that my life is in God's hands," said Adams, who eventually remarried and today is a grandmother.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

After having a miscarriage, Cindy Roth sunk into deep despair. She couldn't understand why this had happened to her when a friend, with an unwanted pregnancy, was doing fine.

"I read Romans 8:28 night after night in my room, and it helped me to get through a time I didn't understand," said Roth, an Overland Park homemaker. "It says that if you love God, everything that he wants to happen to you will work out."

Words that bring comfort

By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions. Baha'i prayer, The Tablet of Ahmad

Stricken with a mysterious illness, Jai Kenyatta-Anderson of Kansas City was in constant pain for months. No doctors, no medicine, no treatment brought relief.

"After four days of not being able to sleep because of the pain, being fed intravenously, having a temperature and a weight that matched and being scheduled for exploratory surgery, I realized that there was a real chance that I was going to die," she said.

Her mother brought her daughter's Baha'i Prayer Book, and she began to read a prayer that Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah, their prophet-founder, invested with special power. The next to the last sentence, quoted above, became most meaningful to Kenyatta-Anderson.

"I read the entire prayer aloud over and over again until I finally fell asleep for the first time in four days," she said. "When I awoke, my fever had broken and I didn't hurt anymore."

Words that bring hope

Breath of heaven, hold me together. Be forever with me. From an Amy Grant CD.

Before Christmas, a sonogram revealed that Rita Tyler's baby might die. About that time, the Lee's Summit medical technologist heard an Amy Grant song about Mary, Mother of Jesus, and what she went through during her pregnancy.

"I listened to that song for the next month, and it helped me through the end of my pregnancy," she said. "My son is 2 months old, a miracle, and I continue to play that song as a thanksgiving for the gift of my son."

When God closes one door, he opens another.

At 61, Ernie Kartsonis, a retired Kansas City businessman, was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors told him he had a year to 18 months to live. Just hearing the word "cancer" frightened him. Sitting in church one Sunday, he read the above words in his church bulletin.

"Those words helped me to know that surely something good is going to happen."

That was nine years ago, and he's still alive, working with the Cancer Hotline to bring hope to others.

O' Allah! I seek of you the means of (deserving) your mercy, the means of (ascertaining) your forgiveness, the protection from all mistakes, the benefit from all virtue and the freedom from all sins. O' Allah! Leave no mistake of mine without your forgiveness, nor any stress without your relief, nor any need of which you approve without being fulfilled by you, O' Most Merciful of the Merciful. From an Islamic prayer

A. Rauf Mir, a Leawood doctor, could hardly believe the situation in which he found himself in the early 1980s. He had become victim of a scam that could have resulted in complete financial and professional ruin, he said.

To make matters worse, a niece from Kashmir, suffering with leukemia, came to stay with his family while she sought medical help, to no avail. She finally returned home, where she died.

"This was a terrible time," Mir said, adding that his faith and prayers got him through.

"The Holy Qur'an repeatedly advises people to obtain help and strength from prayers in all their troubles," he said.

The prayer quoted above helped to give him the hope and strength he needed.

Words that bring happiness

If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and attain supreme enlightenment in this lifetime, you must awaken to the mystic truth which has always been within your life. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth within you. From a letter of Nichiren, a 13th-century Buddhist monk considered a Buddha by his followers.

Royceann Mather, an Overland Park homemaker, sometimes gets depressed, and the words from Nichiren get her back on the track to being happy.

"When I get in a slump and I'm feeling down, I just remember that I have everything within me to be happy," she said. "This passage brings me back to understanding that everything I need for my own happiness already resides within me and to search outside myself is futile."

To reach Helen T. Gray, religion editor at The Star, call (816) 234-4446 or send e-mail to

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