Negative self-talk and holding negative opinions of others is something that plagues all human beings. This can potentially become more dangerous when we hold a negative opinion of our Merciful Lord. Naturally, individuals face difficult trials throughout their lives. Some trials may be easier to overcome than others which seem more difficult to handle. It is during these challenging times where we often sit back, contemplate, and question, “Why did God have to put me through this?” When things do not go as we plan for an extended period of time, it is easy for us to think that bad things are happening to us because we feel God is angry with us, and that this is His way of teaching us a lesson. In fact, it is the total opposite. God states, “We shall test you through fear, hunger, loss of life, property, and crops. (Muhammad), give glad news to the people who have patience.”1

Why all the suffering then?

God has blessed us with life on this Earth. Everything that we are surrounded by is a unique blessing. Our existence in this world is a gift from the Almighty, and it is important we consistently remind ourselves of that. At the same time, we live in a transient world, where we will be consistently tested through our deeds and actions. God states in the Holy book, “It is He who has created death and life to put you to the test and see which of you is most virtuous in your deeds. He is Majestic and All-forgiving.”2 Life will throw countless challenges at us when we least expect it, including financial hardships, relationship issues, death, illness, and other obstacles in a list that goes on. When going through a hardship, we have a choice on how we address those issues internally, within our own selves. We can either sit back and complain about the state we are in during those trying times, or we can have faith in God and keep trying our best by working hard to pull through, by recognizing that these challenges are inevitably going to reach us. Similarly, when we know of an upcoming exam that might be quite difficult, it does not mean the teacher is angry with us and the exam is a means to punish us. Rather, it means that the material is hard to understand, and we just need time to study and to work hard to be successful, and by doing so, we will not only have a better understanding of the material, but we will also grow as a person.

In addition, out of His Mercy and Grace, God promises that He will not make us go through difficulties which we are unable to bear. God states, “God does not impose on any soul a responsibility beyond its ability.”3 Keeping this in the back of our minds will give us the strength to tackle whatever comes our way. This is not to say that what we are experiencing is easy; grief, illness, loss of wealth etc., are all very real challenges that people face, but we can take solace in the fact that God is aware of our obstacles and will surely help us overcome them.

Furthermore, God tests those whom he loves so that they can attain maximum rewards. Imam al-Sadiq (p) states, “An ordeal is a believer’s adornment and a gift to the wise, because being afflicted with it and observing patience and steadfastness in it affirms their faith.”4 Looking at the lives of the prophets of God and our imams, Prophet Muhammad (phuh&p) was one man who was tested by God with the most difficult of challenges: his father passed away before he was born, his mother passed away when he was a young child, the people treated him harshly for many years after he announced his prophethood, his wife then passed away, and his entire family was treated in the most brutal of ways. He, in fact, is the most beloved of God’s creations. All of these calamities were a test for him, and he kept his faith strong and worked hard to get through each one, hence why he attained the highest status in the eyes of God.

Bits of Advice:

1. Pray. When we start to feel helpless during calamities, it is the best time to ask for divine help. God states, “if any of My servants ask you about Me, tell them that the Lord says, ’I am near; I accept the prayers of those who pray.’ Let My servants answer My call and believe in Me so that perhaps they may know the right direction.”5

2. Remember the light at the end of the tunnel. After every difficulty that we are put through in this life, God promises his creation that there will be ease. God states, “After every difficulty there is relief. Certainly, after every difficulty there comes relief.”6 Reminding ourselves of this, knowing that everything in this world is temporary, can really help us move forward and be victorious in the test of life.

3. Reach out for help. Whatever it is that we are going through, if we find ourselves unable to get through it alone, we should reach out for help. It is okay to reach out to friends, family, professionals, or whoever else we see suitable to assist us in times of hardship. Our religion is not rigid and we do not have to struggle in solitude during challenging times. Rather, seeking help during hardships is encouraged within our tradition.

1. The Holy Quran 2:155.
2. The Holy Quran 67:2.
3. The Holy Quran 2:286.
4. Al Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 64, p. 231.
5. The Holy Quran 2:186
6. The Holy Quran 94:5-6.

١- قال الله تعالى: (وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ)
٢- قال الله تعالى: (الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ)
٣- قال الله تعالى: (لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا)
٤- قال الله تعالى: روي عن الإمام الصادق (ع): “البلاء زين المؤمن، وكرامة لمن عقل لأنّ في مباشرته، والصبر عليه، والثبات عنده، تصحيح نسبة الإيمان.”
٥- قال الله تعالى: (وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ)
٦- قال الله تعالى: (فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ‎﴿٥﴾‏ إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا)

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