How can all the pain, suffering, calamities, grief, challenges be to our benefit?
This is something that most people struggle to understand and appreciate.
Let’s start with this analogy:
You can either choose to study medicine (also law in the case of the US), and spend long years of arduous work, sleepless nights and tremendous stress, in order to eventually secure a lucrative future and guaranteed income. Or, you can choose an easier, quicker-to-finish discipline such as Arts and Humanities but then go through life on average income, with the risk of potentially being unable at certain stages to generate income or find a job. Most would wish they could go through the painstaking journey of studying medicine had they the resources of cleverness and financial support realizing the eventual rewards that come with it, and no one can criticize them or wrong them for that. They need the struggle in order for their knowledge, wisdom and skills to develop and become adequate enough to undertake the responsibility of tampering with human life at such direct level.
Same can be applied to life struggles in general. Paradise is an unimaginable bliss. It’s a place where people live as the Quran describes: “(15:47) And [by then] We shall have removed whatever unworthy thoughts or feelings may have been [lingering] in their breasts, [and they shall rest] as brethren, facing one another [in love] upon thrones of happiness.” We are only able to reach that state of purity of heart, lack of any worldly desires or feelings after we have been through suffering and difficult trials. Very mistaken is he who thinks this life is about finding happiness, or that REAL happiness in every sense of the word even exists in this life. This phase is all about preparation and elevation to become worthy of Paradise. Not allowed to enter Paradise are those who still have inside, to any extent, any of the worldly character diseases/faults such as greed, envy, jealousy, deception, ego, etc. The community that will populate Paradise will be that of the highest ethical and spiritual level, otherwise it wouldn’t be Paradise. A level we cannot be elevated to except by going through trials, struggles, pain, challenges, till we recognize how petty are things that otherwise dazzle our sight.
How happy are we when we finally reach the level of fitness and the physique we’ve always dreamed of, even though we had to work at it for many many hours, and suffer pains, sometimes injuries. Yet we gladly embrace all of that having set in front of us the target. In a similar manner we should embrace what we have to go through in life in order to achieve a target of eternal bliss. I always say that if Paradise was only about never ever experiencing worry, pain, fear, hunger, grief, etc., then that alone qualifies as eternal bliss regardless of the infinitely other promised bounties.
Going back to the initial question… How can it be all good?
Going through the hardships in life has four aspects/benefits:
- Erasing sins we have committed in the past, purifying our souls of the heavy burden of guilt and remorse. This grants us entry to Paradise making us worthy of such a place.
- Elevating our status in Paradise, with all the privileges that come with that. Even though so many people will find their way to Paradise, no fair system of judgement should grant those who struggled more, gave more to others, lived a life of altruism, the same status and rewards as those who did the bare minimum. Remembering that in Paradise things will last eternally, one should strive to the best of his ability to achieve the best possible status. This has to take precedence over any worldly possessions, home or status, since, at longest, they will last for only a 100 years!! Ask anyone in their 80s, how long life seemed they’d say it passed so fast as if they lived for only a handful of years. And life IS really a very brief transitional stage of existence, yet we worry more about it, are obsessed with achieving success in it, when the real goal should be ETERNITY !!
- Elevating us spiritually, giving us the wisdom and sound vision to see life as it really is, to shrink all people and things back to their actual sizes, to come to know what is important and worth our time and effort and what is a total waste of both, to release us of all future worries and anxieties realizing that there’s only so much we can do and we are NOT IN CONTROL, to ground us against inflated ego putting our achievements in correct perspective for what they’re worth, to free us from obsessing and excessively holding on to people, and things in this life no matter how dear they are to us when we realize we shall all be reunited again one day, surrendering to the Will of Our Creator and Sustainer knowing that we can only see so far ahead of us whereas He Sees All and is the All Knowing of what’s best for us even when we THINK we do.
- Giving us more strength and confidence than we had before. It’s just like physical workouts, no pain no gain, more rigorous exercise regimen yields stronger muscles and endurance.
People who suffer one or more very painful experiences especially the loss of a loved one, and I’m one of them, often come to see the wisdom of what they went through. They eventually find a level of tranquility, serenity, free from worries, that they have never experienced before in life. So much so that challenges become a welcome experience as they result in more self-development than any one study program.
“(2:216) it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know.”
They say OMG!!… I say: Bring it on!!