"O Thou Who hears the cries of the world, come to us."
During the first decade of Paramhansa Yogananda's coming to America, no one could have said that he was not tried as "gold in the furnace". He underwent humiliation, ridicule and rejection. But never did he loose faith in the Lord. Though in the midst of the storms of life, he always found joy within meditation, a safe and secure shelter in the harbour of God's Presence. He had embossed upon his mind and heart, along with the memories of cruel treatment, the words of his Guru:
“One might have the whole universe, and find the Lord elusive still! Spiritual advancement is not measured by one's outward powers, but only by the depth of his bliss in meditation.
“EVER-NEW JOY IS GOD. He is inexhaustible; as you continue your meditations during the years, He will beguile you with an infinite ingenuity. Devotees like yourself who have found the way to God never dream of exchanging Him for any other happiness; He is seductive beyond thought of competition.” 1
Another champion of the Lord, Saint Francis of Assisi, whose life was known to be tried with hardship and ascetical labours unmatched by others of his time, found the EVER-NEW JOY IN GOD to be his life's treasure.
The note of joy was in all his suffering. Mr. G.K. Chesterton expresses this perfectly:
"The whole point about St. Francis of Assisi is that he certainly was ascetical and he certainly was not gloomy.
As soon as he had been unhorsed by the glorious humiliation of his vision of his dependance on the divine love,
he flung himself into fasting and vigil exactly as he had flung himself furiously into battle. He had wheeled his charger clean round, but there was no halt or check in the thundering impetuosity of his charge. There was nothing negative about it; it was not a regime or a stoical simplicity of life. It was not self-denial merely in the sense of self-control. It was as positive as a passion; it had all the air of being as positive as a pleasure. He devoured fasting as a man devours food. He plunged after poverty as men have dug madly for gold. And it is precisely that positive and passionate quality of this part of his personality that is a challenge to the modern mind in the whole problem of the pursuit of pleasure. There undeniably is the historical fact; and there attached to it is another moral fact almost as undeniable. It is certain that he held on this heroic or unnatural course from the moment when he went forth in his hair-shirt into the winter woods to the moment when he desired even in his death agony to lie bare upon the bare ground, to prove that he had and that he was nothing. And we can say, with almost as deep a certainty that the stars which passed above that gaunt and wasted corpse stark upon the rocky floor had for once, in all their shining circles round the world of labouring humanity, looked down upon a happy man." 2
1. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda
2. In Praise of St. Francis, by Archibald K. Campbell
From East to West, the Saints who underwent the most trying labors and hardships all declare with one voice: