Sri Ramakrishna used to narrate a beautiful story to explain the nature of true devotion.
Once, three friends were going through a forest when a tiger suddenly appeared before them. They were shocked and frightened. One of them exclaimed that they were lost. The second person did not agree and said, “Why should one say that?” He said, “Instead of foolishly lamenting that we are lost, we should pray to God.” The third friend said, “No, why should we trouble God about it? Come let us climb this tree.”
The friend who said that everything was lost was ignorant since he didn’t know that there was a God who protects everyone. The friend who asked everyone to pray was a devotee who was aware of the existence of God and that by praying to him one can seek his protection. He was aware that God was the creator, preserver and destroyer of all. The third friend who didn’t want to trouble God with prayer and suggested to climb the tree had ecstatic love for God. It is the nature of love to think oneself to be stronger than one’s Beloved. He is ever alert lest his Beloved should suffer. The one desire of his is to keep his Beloved from even being pricked at the foot by a thorn.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the last described attitude is possible only when one has true devotion to God. Such a person never thinks of his difficulties or problems and is ever immersed in the thought of God. He is so possessed by his love and devotion to his Ishta or Chosen Ideal that he even feels responsible for the happiness and well-being of his Beloved.