Some parts of life suck. That’s just how it is, no matter how much we might try to change it. Life will never be perfect; for most people, it’s riddled with hardships, tragedies, and mistakes.
So imagine my surprise when I witnessed a whole group of people of various backgrounds say that they wouldn’t change their past, even if they could. I was in class, and my professor asked if anyone would go back and undo their mistakes or prevent any hardships, if they were able to. Nobody raised their hands—not one person.
When we discussed why, the general consensus was that if we changed our past, we wouldn’t be who we are today. My mistakes have led me to where I am. My hardships have given me strength. The ups and downs of life have made me wiser and more resilient.
I find it easier to be grateful to Allah after a hardship has passed, when I can see the reason for it more clearly, than to trust Him when I’m in the middle of a difficult time.
Now, bear with me as I share this next thought. What if we always had that perspective, even while we are going through a tough time? What if we always realized the importance of experiencing hardships and making mistakes, instead of gaining that insight only after some time has passed? What if we allow ourselves to go through a difficult period of our lives while keeping in mind that someday, we might be grateful that it happened?
I know, this might sound fluffy and unrealistic. Because like I said earlier, life can suck. I know that going through tough experiences can be painful and feel like the worst thing in the world. Illness, failure, betrayal, loss, regret… the list is endless. And it all hurts. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a bright side? Maybe there is some wisdom in it, even this time. Maybe it’s not only our past experiences which were good for us, but our current ones as well.
This is where tawakkul (faith and trust in God) comes in. I know it’s not always easy. I find it easier to be grateful to Allah after a hardship has passed, when I can see the reason for it more clearly, than to trust Him when I’m in the middle of a difficult time. But some of this is my own shortsightedness, and I think many others struggle with it as well.
Maybe, just maybe, there is some wisdom in it, even this time? Maybe it’s not only our past experiences which were good for us, but our current ones as well.
Perspective is a powerful thing. It has the power to completely change the way we feel about someone or something (or even ourselves). It can make us persevere bravely through a tough situation, or dread waking up every morning. It can also make us revere or resent God. And Allah (swt) Himself tells us, “I am just as My slave thinks I am.” This one sentence shows just how powerful the right perspective can be.
If I perceive Allah to be merciful, even while going through a hardship, then I will see Divine mercy in my situation. If I think, “Why me?” and have a pessimistic attitude, I will most likely become distanced from Allah. Hardship can either serve as a means of bringing us closer to Him or taking us further away. Ultimately, it is our choice which one happens.
No matter what you are going through, inshaAllah (God-willing), you will come out stronger than before. You can make it through this trial. And perhaps Allah has given this hardship to you out of love, so you will call out to Him and gain closeness to Him.
“And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of labour’s fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity.” [Quran 2:155]
The Prophet (saws) said, “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” [Sahih Muslim]
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