Life is a challenge. There’s no doubt about that. But, challenges aren’t a bad thing, especially when we look at them as opportunities for growth and success. Easier said than done, I know.
Throughout my life, I have faced my own set of struggles, difficulties, and challenges. First off, to them, I say Alhamdulillah. They have made me who I am today. And although, at the time of facing those particular struggles, I felt a phenomenal amount of pain and suffering, I now look back at every single one of those events and aspects of my life as blessings and lessons that I carry with me every day. I use these experiences as reminders and tools with which I can learn to become a better person.
Some of the challenges I’ve faced are things that others would consider small and unimportant, or would be able to overcome so easily that they wouldn’t even register these things as challenges. Does that mean that I am weaker or a lesser person than them? Does that mean they are more advanced or better than me? No. It just shows how we all face our own struggles to our own degrees and at our own pace.
I know of some people who are monumental figures in the world, who inspire people every day, and who are financially successful as well. These people were also once homeless, once failing students, once leading unhealthy lives to the extent of being close to death, once going through a tough divorce, or once dealing with the loss of their family members because of war. Most of us would find facing even one of these struggles to be overwhelming, but some have faced more than a few of those things at once. Yet, today they are happy and successful. With faith and patience, they were able to overcome, and for that, they were rewarded.
Is Patience Worth It?
“Indeed, the patient will be given their record without account” – Quran (39:10)
Just the other day, I attended a halaqa, where the teacher told us about the story of Prophet Ayub (may Allah have mercy on him) and how he faced so many different trials, and still, remained patient. Off the top of my head, what I recall learning about was how Prophet Ayub had almost everything a person could want in life: a loving family, wealth, good health, and a good reputation in the community. He was then tested, riddled with disease to the point that no one wanted to come near him, so he lost his friends, his wealth, and his health. Still, he remained patient. Because he couldn’t work, as his health had deteriorated to the point of making his figure seem like no more than flesh on bones, his wife began to work by cleaning homes and the like. People didn’t know that she was Prophet Ayub’s wife, but once they found out, they stopped hiring her, in fear that she may pass his disease on to them. So, in a state of desperation, she began to sell her hair (there was a high payment given for hair that could be used to make wigs). This brought a lot of wealth, so Prophet Ayub asked her where the wealth came from, and she ultimately told him and revealed her practically bald head. He then, for the first time, made dua regarding his and his family’s condition saying, “Oh Allah, we have been touched by difficulty.” Look how patient he was, that even after facing all that he had, he didn’t describe his condition as being horrific or unbearable, but rather, said that they have been simply “touched” by difficulty – incredible, Subhanallah!! After this, he was rewarded for his patience and got back his health and wealth, and was able to become a functioning member of his society again.
We often look at the things we face and at that moment, we feel them to be overwhelming and heavily burdensome. We feel like we are facing the toughest thing in the world, and for those without faith, the words that often come to mind are, “Why me?” But, the truth of the matter is, the things we face all have purpose, and regardless of how difficult they may seem, nothing is more difficult than you can handle. Our struggles and difficulties in life are in fact blessings in disguise, as they give us the opportunity to show our true strengths and to become better than we were before. Sure, you didn’t get that job you wanted, you missed out on completing your degree because of 0.6%, or things didn’t work out with that person you were sure you were meant to marry…but all of those things not going as you had planned was all part of Allah’s Plan to prepare you for the better things to come, or to protect you from what may have come had things gone your way. Personally, as I look back, through all the pain and struggles, I smile because I can see how things just got better over time, or I realized how horrible my life would have been if I had gotten what I wanted, and every single one of those major “struggles” I thought would be the end of me turned out to be remembered as no more than a moment in time that passed and is now lighter than a feather.
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” – Quran (2:216)
Be patient with all that you face, and grateful for how far you’ve come. Think back to some of the things you’ve experienced in life and you’ll find that a lot of the bad times only made you stronger. It’s a tough thing to experience at the time, but if you keep in mind that Allah is merely making you stronger in faith and character through this and protecting your from harm, you’ll find more contentment with your condition. Remember, Allah rewards the patient without account, so just imagine how He, the One with no limitations, could reward you with so much more than you could imagine!
Why’s It Taking So Long?
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned.” – Quran (2:286)
We face a lot in our lives – that is without doubt. But all that we face is within the capacity of what we can bear. What gets to us isn’t the inability to accomplish our goals, but the time it takes for us to do so. We live in a time where everything is based on instant gratification. Patience is almost unheard of because people expect what they want to be manifested in front of them in one way or another without taking out the time and effort to make it a reality. We rush ourselves to accomplish our goals, and treat others badly if they get in our way. We look at others with judgment if they are struggling in a part of their journey that we found to be easy. We fail to understand that every person will be tested and awarded as is most befitting to us, because we are all unique and need to face our own journeys in our own way.
This concept is reflected in every aspect of life. We want financial stability, so we apply for a few jobs and then start complaining a few days later because we’re still unemployed. We want to get married, but hardly do anything to make ourselves worthy of marriage, and then complain that no one wants to marry us. We want to lose weight so we eat healthy and work out for a week or two and then complain that we still haven’t lost those 20 lbs. we set out to lose. We talk and talk about our intentions to take action towards leading better lives, but then spend months complaining about how nothing has changed, when truthfully, we’ve hardly put any effort towards taking action towards those changes. We need to embrace our responsibilities towards ourselves, and take steps towards our goals at our own pace. Ignore the pressures of others and just ask yourself if you’re working as hard as you can. Compare yourself only to the person you were the day before. Other than that, know that everyone else is irrelevant in comparison. Try to work at who you want to become by recognizing that you are different from everyone else and that you need to find your success at your own pace. Taking this approach will bring you ease, contentment, and a much faster and healthier path to success – I speak from experience, Alhamdulillah.
“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” – Quran (65:3-4)