According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause. The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however, but educative and remedial. It is God’s Voice proclaiming to man that he has strayed from the right path. If the suffering is
terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more terrible, for “the wages of sin is death."
Just as calamity is due to disobedience, so deliverance
from calamity can be obtained only be obedience. There is no chance or uncertainty about the matter. Turning from God inevitably brings disaster, and turning to God as inevitably brings blessing.
(Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 95)
Furthermore, these events have deeper reasons. Their object and purpose is to teach man certain lessons. We are living in a day of reliance upon material conditions. Men imagine that the great size and strength of a ship, the perfection of machinery or the skill of a navigator will ensure safety, but these disasters sometimes take place that men may know that God is the real Protector. If it be the will of God to protect man, a little ship may escape destruction, whereas the greatest and most perfectly constructed vessel with the best and most skillful navigator may not survive a danger such as was present on the ocean. The purpose is that the people of the world may turn to God, the One Protector; that human souls may rely upon His preservation and know that He is the real safety. These events happen in order that man’s faith may be increased and strengthened.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 48)
In times of disappointment, stress and anxiety, which we must inevitably encounter, we should remember the sufferings of our departed Master.
(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 9 July 1926) (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)