Religion

How does faith combat discouragement?

God has a place for the righteous

Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City: Faith in its essence is hope for and glad tidings for the mercy, grace and kindness of the generous and gracious God. God has power over all things. God expects us to work hard for good and hopefully God will use our sincerity and hard work to bring his promise of brighter and better things to come, if not in this life then in the hereafter.

Looking at our troubled world today makes the sane mad and the whole broken. But knowing that God is the ultimate judge and the hereafter is the final abode gives believers hope of better things to come and that better situations await us.

The lives of the early prophets symbolize this hope and encouragement. Why did Moses’ mother put him in a basket and into the water? It was the hope that the Almighty would save him and take care of him. After Jesus’ miraculous birth, what motivated his mother to bring him to her people was the hope that this child, with God’s permission, would prove her innocence and exonerate her.

Belief is the strength that gives us hope that truth and justice will prevail. A true and sincere believer understands that we humans sometimes compromise and twist the truth and justice. In the meantime he or she realizes that God eventually will make the truth clear and justice will be established.

Peace comes to those with spiritual wisdom

Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: Discouragement and hopelessness can arise due to many reasons. Swami Adiswarananda describes some of the symptoms of the uncontrolled mind in his book, “The Vedanta Way to Peace and Happiness.” He writes, “...optimism without realism brings disappointment; enthusiasm without control is prone to blunders, and an unbridled adventurous spirit can lead us into endless difficulties.” The underlying malaise for such a state of mind is due to an ignorance of one’s inner spiritual nature.

Thus, spiritual wisdom is essential to cultivating a balanced mind. Then, one recognizes the negative influence of ego, greed and excessive material pleasures on one’s mind and society. Consequently, one learns to cultivate self-control, discriminate between what is eternal and transient, practice equanimity and follow one’s dharma. Dharma requires one to perform the duties of life in accordance with universal ethical values.

Therefore, one’s faith must be founded on spiritual reality to help combat discouragement and hopelessness. The Bhagavad-Gita states, “When spiritual wisdom is the highest goal, one’s faith is deep and senses restrained, then one attains wisdom and acquires perfect peace.”

According to Vedanta, true faith begins with having faith in ourselves. Then, through practicing the spiritual disciplines of meditation and yoga, one achieves a transformation of one’s character. Thus, one’s faith evolves into the realization of one’s inner spiritual nature and manifests as enlightened optimism.

Voices of faith

Send your questions for one of our panels of religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108. Send e-mail to hgraykcstar.com or a fax to 816-234-4787.

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