12.18-19 – Bad times test our faith – and so do good times
Bad times test our faith. They raise the question: “When I am serving Krishna, why is he not protecting me?”
Gita wisdom answers that Krishna protects in multifarious and mysterious ways – not just at the material this-worldly level but also at the spiritual other-worldly level. Bad times push us to take shelter of Krishna and thereby experience the reality and the sublimity of the spiritual level. That shelter also enables us to tolerate and transcend the bad times, and become better equipped to face life’s inevitable challenges. Thus can bad times increase our faith in Krishna.
What we may not realize that good times are also a test of faith – and sometimes a greater test of faith. When the world hands us a raw deal, turning away from it and towards Krishna is relatively easy. But when the world hands us a good deal, choosing Krishna tests our faith: do we truly believe that he is better than the best that the world can offer?
Of course, we don’t have to reject the world for the sake of Krishna; we can use worldly things in his service. But for thus devotionally engaging worldly things, we need to fix our vision on Krishna, not on those things.
Gita wisdom helps us develop that fixity by reminding us of the fragility of our body, the fallibility of our abilities and the futility of our hopes for lasting happiness in this temporary world. If we keep serving Krishna undistractedly even amidst good times, that devotional service helps us realize that the sweetness of Krishna consciousness exceeds the joy of good times. Thus can good times increase our faith in Krishna.
When we stay fixed in Krishna amidst both misery and happiness, the Bhagavad-gita (12.18-19) declares that we become dear to him.