Sometimes we face stubborn challenges that hold us back from our dreams. They keep us ‘stuck’ and slow down our journey to fulfilling our potential, being more productive, and living life with purpose and passion.These challenges can come in the form of some sort of loss: whether a loss of health, wealth, loved ones, or loved things. They try our emotions and mentally hold us back from fulfilling the vision we have for our life.
We are told in the Qur’an:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 155].
So the question is, how can we overcome the losses, challenges, and disappointments that are inevitable in life? How can we carry on with our lives to fulfill our ultimate purpose and maintain a strong connection with Allah ? How can we heal those wounds and overcome those worries, so we can live our life to the fullest and step up to what we could potentially do to make a positive difference in the world?
Occupy yourself with the Giver, not the gift
First, it helps to remember that loss is a natural part of life, because everything is transient and temporary. Although we can experience great sadness, we can also experience great joy.
Allah tells us once again in Surat An-Najm:
“And that to your Lord is the finality. And that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep. And that it is He who causes death and gives life.” [Qur’an: Chapter 53, Verses 42-44]
Our health, wealth, and loved ones are all blessings and gifts that belong to Allah , which He lends to us for some time.6 We just tend to forget that they are gifts and end up attached to the gift and not as attached or thankful to the One Who blessed us with the gift, even when He, in His Infinite Mercy, chooses to take the gift away.
We know that for the believer, being tested or being blessed is an opportunity for patience and gratitude:
“How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” [Muslim].
So when you thought you needed something or someone all along to feel more worthy; whether a job, money, status, spouse or friends, although all of those things are gifts from Allah , the One you really and ultimately needed all along was Allah .
It is our status and relationship with our Creator that should ultimately decide our worth.
Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Qur’an: Chapter 49, Verse 13]
The keys to success
We are also told about loss, the greatest loss, being a loss of Allah’s pleasure and happiness both now and in the Hereafter in Surat Al-Asr:
“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Qur’an: Chapter 103, Verses 1-3]2
These verses not only tell us about loss, but also the way out of this state of loss, including how to cope with it and overcome it, so that we can move on to more contentment and success, In sha Allah.
The keys that are mentioned in the above verses are:
1. Belief in Allah
2. Doing Good
3. Enjoining each other to truth
4. Enjoining each other to patience
Understand the ‘truth’
I will briefly touch on the third key, which is to encourage each other to hold on to the truth. The truth is belief in Allah and His words in the Qur’an, which includes the temporary nature of the world, the truth that it will have both the good and the bad, and that you will feel both happiness and sadness.
“And when adversity touches man, he calls upon his Lord, turning to Him [alone]; then when He bestows on him a favor from Himself, he forgets Him whom he called upon before, and he attributes to Allah equals to mislead [people] from His way. Say, “Enjoy your disbelief for a little; indeed, you are of the companions of the Fire.” [Qur’an: Chapter 39, Verse 8]
We need to constantly remind each other of this truth, because as human beings, we are prone to forget. We forget that Allah’s showered us with His blessings. We forget the years that Allah gave us ease, and tend to only remember the times of difficulty and the times when we were tested with some loss of some apparent blessings for reasons that Allah , in His Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, knows would ultimately be for our betterment and elevation.
We know from the stories in the Qur’an and stories of great people, that many times transformation came out of tribulation and the greatest moments of weakness paved the way to the greatest moments of strength.2
We can choose to hold on to the truth that in the end, there is An All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Compassionate God who is taking care of every single soul that walks this Earth. We can choose to have hope in Allah , which then grants us hope in ourselves to carry on, despite multiple losses, challenges, and disappointments.
Remember that in the Qur’an Allah tells us that we were created weak, and He says that He wants to lighten this burden for us. This weakness can be seen when we are so easily afflicted with sickness and weakness in a matter of minutes. We do not have control over where we are born or how we will die, among many other factors. We have this fragile nature that requires plenty of care to survive. We are constantly faced with tests and tribulations.
That is why you need to believe with all your heart that Allah has the power to change your state, your matters, and your life for the better in a matter of hours, minutes, or even seconds – even after prolonged difficulty.
You see, all those losses and challenges were and will always be part of a Divine Plan to purify and teach you. In addition to elevating you to a higher level, one that could have not been reached without the struggles, challenges and disappointments. They were all stepping stones to the triumphs, joy, and absolute awe over Allah’s mercy.
Alhamdulillah, truly we are engulfed with Allah’s mercy.
It gets better
We have to believe that no matter how difficult things seem, Allah reminds us that with hardship, there is ease. So we need to look for the ease amidst the hardships, the joy amidst the sadness, the strength amidst the weakness, and the healing amidst the hurtfulness. Allah is taking care of you every step of the way. Just pray, believe, listen, and wonder in amazement at the gifts Allah showers you with.
We also need to try not to stare and worry about the closed doors for so long that you forget to appreciate the multitude of other doors Allah has opened and will open for you, In sha Allah. In the end, His “door” is always open; all you have to do is ask.
Allah promises us to make a way out for us in the following verses:
“…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.” [Qur’an: Chapter 65, Verses 2-3]
So yes, we will hope, we will dream, we will strive, and we will build. Indeed we can fail, fall, and feel hurt, betrayed, and feel a lack of empathy and compassion from others. However, we can get back up, try again, hope again, dream again, strive again and build again. We can succeed again. We can be happy and fulfilled again.
Once we build that hope and faith in Allah , that will be the fuel to have hope and faith in ourselves, because He tells us that He created us in the best way possible and that with Him, anything can be possible.
So although Allah mentions that we were created weak and fragile, He also tells us:
“We have certainly created man in the best of stature.” [Qur’an: Chapter 95, Verse 4]
Why? We have the ability to reason and choose.
Turn to Allah
Every time you experience some sort of loss or challenge that has broken your heart, choose to revive your love for the One whose love was meant to fill your heart: to love Allah , to turn to Him, to expect nothing except from Him1, and to ultimately give and do everything for Him.
Every time the world fails you and others disappoint you, choose to strive for ultimate success both now and in the Hereafter where, In sha Allah, you will enjoy eternal bliss in heaven with room for nothing but happiness.
Every time you thought you failed, choose to learn the lessons that will help you rebuild yourself to be more successful later, In sha Allah.
Every time you thought the world would fill that void in your heart, choose to remember it as a reminder that nothing could fill that void except the closeness to and love of Allah .
Whenever you are facing difficult times, remember that you have the best gift of all, the gift of guidance, and the gift to know where we came from and where we are going.
The gift to know that regardless of all the tribulations, losses, sadness and pain in this world, there is an afterlife, a heaven of eternal bliss, for those whose hearts have been guided.
What is a little hardship in comparison to an eternity of ease?
What is some sickness in comparison to an eternity of perfect health?
What is some sadness in comparison to an eternity of happiness?
What is some loss in comparison to an eternity of gaining everything beautiful?
Really, what is some difficulty when:
• We have prayer: an opportunity to connect with the Creator of the universe to pour out all of our worries to;
• We have the Qur’an: a source of guidance and healing for our hearts, a comforter, and a way to find answers for life’s most troubling questions;
• We have dua: an opportunity to call onto the One in Whose Hands all matters lie. The One Who can change anything in the blink of an eye, and the One Who just says “be” and it is;
• Most importantly, we have Allah : The One Who loved us before anyone loved us, and The One Who raised us from the depths of darkness. He Who protected us, gave us life, gave us an opportunity to be deserving of a heaven that spans the skies and the earth and make a positive difference in the world, In sha Allah.
I hope that I have helped you see how you can overcome emotional obstacles and not lose sight of your life’s purpose. What other tips have helped you successfuly deal with emotional challenges?