Prepare for the test(DW#751 )

For the next several days, we will inshallahexplore verses from Chapter 29 of the Quran, Sura Ankabut [The Spider].

In verses 2 and 3, Allah says:

Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, we believe, and not be tried?

And certainly We tried those before them . . .
[Holy Quran 29:2 & 3]

These verses are informing us about a fact of life: there will always be challenges to face and obstacles to overcome. In other words, we should not be surprised when we encounter challenges and upsets to our comfort and ease.  

What is the purpose of these trials?

It is interesting that the word for trial or test in Arabic is fitna, one of the meanings of which is "to melt gold in order to separate its impure parts".  Just like the true beauty and strength of gold is revealed once it is put in the furnace, our strength and resilience as human beings is revealed when we face adversity and obstacles.

Since our journey on this earth is to discover and live up to our true potential, obstacles are the necessary training to enable us to do this.

When human beings go through difficulties in life, our old way of seeing the world is often shattered. Amidst the trials, there is an opportunity to wake up to the true priorities of life. It is an opportunity to shift from a pleasure seeking way of living to a more meaningful and purposeful way of living. One that is aligned with our essential nature and purpose rather than a distraction from it.

People who go through challenges are often surprised at the inner resources that show up to encounter these challenges. While no one choses these situations, people who go through the trials often say that they are the stronger for it.

Trials and tests also provide us opportunities to practice reliance on Him, patience, perseverance and gratitude.  Many people who go through a very difficult situation in life, such as an illness report that it made them stretch and grow spiritually in ways that they could not have imagined. Although they would not have chosen the test, they say, they know that are better for it.

So how do we become amongst those who grow and not drown as a result of trials? How do we bounce back – rather bounce better – from adversity?

Firstly, we need to embrace the face that adversity and obstacles WILL show up.

Secondly, we can use these situations to practice what we know but may have not paid attention to: connection to the Divine, patience, compassion. This is the time to live up to and practice virtues that we aspire to.

Thirdly, we need to trust that He has not put anything in our way that we are not capable of handling.

As Abraham Maslow once said about the self-actualizers he studied: "the most important learning experiences [for them]. . . were tragedies, deaths, and trauma . . . which forced change in the life-outlook of the person and consequently in everything they did."  Of course, that doesn’t mean that we are expected to enjoy those challenges, especially while they are happening, but simply that we recognize them as opportunities for growth, an opportunity to realign our priorities in life and an opportunity for awakening to our true nature.

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