personal effort

Personal effort is indeed a vital prerequisite to the recognition and acceptance of the Cause of God. No matter how strong the measure of Divine grace, unless supplemented by personal, sustained and intelligent effort it cannot become fully effective and be of any real and abiding advantage.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Feb. 27, 1938

This struck me when I read it tonight, because of what it’s saying—personal effort will make at least two things happen: 1. Recognition and acceptance of the Cause of God, and 2. Divine grace will become fully effective. Interesting, because my own understanding of those concepts—those of recognition and acceptance of the Baha’i Faith, and that of Divine grace—never really included a lot of thought about the effort needed to make them happen. I guess #1 could be somewhat understandable for someone who was brought up in a Baha’i family; to me, the Baha’i Faith made sense as a matter of familiarity before it ever became a conscious spiritual decision. As in, “of course I accept the Baha’i Faith, I’m so familiar with it.” (There’s more to acceptance than that, of course, but I won’t get into that right now.) My reaction to #2 probably shows that I don’t understand the concept of grace—and, perhaps, the concept of God Himself and of His relation to the individual—well enough. It’s as if I always figured God’s grace would pop up and fix things as long as I prayed enough, without me having to make a whole lot of effort. You know, like nine doves would suddenly settle onto my balcony, each bearing an olive branch. Heh. We sometimes end up believing strange things if we don’t bring ourselves to account properly each day…

2 thoughts on “personal effort

  1. It seems to me (nearly 40 years now since I’ve embraced the Faith) that personal effort is like a key (like in a lock) in the physical world that unlocks spiritual abilities and bounties. If the key doesn’t move (we don’t make any effort) the lock on the door the door is not unlocked.
    The best effort is sacrifice. That unlocks a BIG door!! The bigger (more painful) the sacrifice, the more plentiful the bounties.
    Sometimes the result of effort is not immediately apparent – that is the test.

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