There is no greater struggle than trying to hold onto hope when you feel that all is lost.
Our beliefs can either be challenged or strengthened in times of hardship. In our attempt at survival we can begin to question everything that we have believed, and when things worsen around us, our faith can be affected. In an attempt to deal with such intense emotions, we often start looking for something to numb these painful feelings, controversial thoughts or and difficult situations we have found ourselves in.
However, temporary pleasures give temporary relief and we will always come back to the pain, until we deal with the core issue. This in itself can take courage, to be honest with others and ultimately with ourselves as to what choices we are making and what lesson we are being taught and whether we are willing to learn from it. It can be difficult to look at ourselves in this manner; it takes vulnerability and the desire to improve oneself and sometimes we can struggle to take the easier route.
So how can we cope during these times of turmoil? How can we use our faith to not only overcome but also to strengthen our relationship with Allah SWT?
By turning to the one who decrees all, turning to the Turner of Hearts. We ask Allah to heal us, to lessen the painful emotions and to increase our emaan (faith), where it may be wavering. We are reminded that nothing in this life is permanent and even our worse times are only temporary and they too will pass. By trusting in His knowledge and being patient and waiting for the tide to turn, we can help put a different perspective on our current suffering and understand that we are gaining reward for the way in which we endure in these times.
If we look at the Qur’an, which has also been sent as a means for guiding and healing, listening to and reciting the Qur’an can be soothing for our souls and a means for curing illness. We can refer to the many stories of the Prophets, whose sabr (patience) were tested over years and who were unwavering in their belief that Allah SWT would bring them justice, peace, and the best outcome. For example, Prophet Yusuf PBUH who had to overcome many trials during many years of hardship and in the end was rewarded with the best of everything. The lessons we are taught is that the way out of every calamity is through seeking only Allah’s help and that we should accept and be happy with Allah’s decree because we can never imagine the extent of wisdom that is behind it.
Salah is there for us five times a day as a reminder of our status in this life, that we are here to worship Allah SWT and it is also a source of peace. We shed away our tears and renew our intention with every prayer and it can help us feel more peaceful and more connected to our Creator. For those who need to, there are extra prayers, the prayer of need for example and istikhara to deal with difficult decisions and we once again we place our trust in Allah SWT and this lessens our burden when we know that we are not ultimately in control of the outcome, we can do our best but we leave it in Allah’s hands.
We should also be aware that Shaytaan uses these moments to sow seeds of doubt and self pity into our heads which, if we are aware of, we can strive to protect ourselves against shaytaan and his whisperings. We should remember that all muslims are afflicted with trials and that all of us feel low from time to time, it is not as a result of our value and not an indicator of how good a muslim we actually are.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say ‘if only I had done (such and such), the such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allah has decreed and what He wills He does,’ for ‘if only’ opens the doors to the work of the shaytaan”
Our trials show us that there is only one whom will bring justice, only one whom we can turn to when all doors are closed onto us. It is in these moments of despair, that the light of our deen becomes more apparent and we begin to hold onto it in a manner that we had not held onto it before, instead of being just another thing in our lives, it becomes the focus and that is why Allah SWT gives us tests, to test our faith and our patience and to return us to Him when we are lost.
Gratitude has long been shown to be a powerful way to fight difficulties. If we can be grateful to Allah during the good times, when we are not being tested and when things are calm and well, then we build resilience and we are practicing that of which Allah SWT states in the Qur’an,
“If you are grateful, I will give you more”
~ Qur’an 14:7
There is then great benefit in being grateful, as we attract more goodness towards us and it also shifts our perspective from seeing ourselves as a victim, to instead focusing on our blessings and seeing that we have a certain amount of power to do something about how we are feeling and this in turn can have a complete turnaround effect on our mental and physiological state.