“Mama, the doctor hurt my arm,” my 3-year old niece wailed after receiving her vaccination. “It’s hurting.”
This poor girl was taken out by her mother, the person in the world who meant everything to her.
“Mum loves me, she would never ever hurt me,” my niece must have been thinking when her mum took her in the car.
But after the injection she must have been baffled: “But then why did Mum just sit there and allow a stranger to put a big needle into my arm?”
How do you explain to a 3-year old that a vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen?
You just hope that the love and care and affection that you have given this child throughout its life will allow the child to understand that even when mum does something to cause it pain, it is for the child’s ultimate, long-term protection and benefit.
Stop for a moment and think of a good person that you know who is going through unimaginable suffering.
Perhaps a loving, charitable couple who have just lost a child? An upright, noble man serving life in prison? A kind, generous woman suffering from painful cancer?
In December 2004 an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was a disaster of biblical proportions.
I was in HM Prison Woodhill at the time. As I have described in the book that I am writing, I saw this disaster in a dream hours before it happened.
A week after this disaster The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, wrote an article in The Daily Telegraph in which he said that the Tsunami had made him question the existence of God.
I remember reading this article then, and I re-read it again recently.
He wrote that it would be wrong if the question ‘How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?’ was not being asked.
I do not feel that the article sufficiently addressed this question.
When we look around us, we see much suffering in the world. War, pain, poverty, sickness, hunger, famine, earthquakes, floods, disease, disability…
The strong oppress the weak, men are violent to women, adults abuse children.
We do not have to look far. Each of us knows someone in our family, or relatives, or community, whom we consider an upright ‘good’ person who has endured, or is enduring unbelievable suffering.
When you go through a calamity and you are at your lowest point, Satan plants seeds of doubt into your mind and urges you to question the Wisdom of God.
Even the Prophets questioned, not the existence of God, but His Wisdom when they were at their lowest points:
‘Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.’ [Quran 2:214]
As did their disciples:
“[Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted [in fear], and hearts reached the throats and you assumed about Allah [various] assumptions.” [Quran 33:10]
Imagine a calamity so severe that it shakes your faith to the core and you begin to have doubts about, not the existence of Allah, but why He has done or is doing something.
One of Allah’s Names is Al-Hakeem, The Wise One.
If you truly believe in Allah and trust Him, then you have full confidence in His Wisdom.
When you go through suffering and things are hard. When you begin to feel as if Allah has abandoned you and you question why He is not responding to your prayers…
Think of all the good things He has done to you in your life before this point. Think of all the blessings He has given you:
Despite your suffering what do you still have?
Health, eyesight, fresh air, sleep, family, intellect, food, water, shelter?
What do you still have that many in the world do not have and would yearn to have?
If Allah was evil, or sadistic, or hated you, why would He have given you all these blessings?
If Allah has given you so much, but then He has put you through some pain which is small in comparison to the comforts He has given you, surely there must be a reason for this pain?
Surely, this reason must be in your benefit?
A 3-year old child is not going to understand that her mother asked a stranger to put a metal needle into her arm today so that many years in the future she will be protected from a debilitating illness.
Allah puts us through suffering in this life to allow us to attain a rank in the Hereafter that we would never have reached with our deeds alone.
One who does not believe in God will never be able to understand this.
When He puts us through suffering, and we demonstrate patience and contentment despite what we are going through, He rewards us for that by raising our status in the Hereafter.
Think of the love that a mother has for her child. Not just among humans, but among animals even.
Think of the lioness who picks up her young cub in her sharp teeth. If one of those teeth penetrate even a mm into the cub, it will kill him. But the tooth never penetrates into the cub. Never.
This is love.
But the love that Allah has for His Creation is millions and billions and infinite times more than the love any mother has for her child.
The believer realises, therefore, that the ‘bad’ thing that happens to a good person is not a bad thing, it is a good thing.
So, in the context of the Hereafter, only good things happen to good people. Bad things never happen to good people.
If we trusted our parents when we were young, then surely we should trust Allah and His Wisdom whatever we go through in life?
Allah is the Lord, Al-Hakeem, The Wise. Allah does not gloat at our suffering and pain. It does not make Him happy to see us in pain.
He never puts us through any suffering today unless He knows that it will be in our best interest tomorrow.
This is love.
Has Allah (God) ever put you through suffering whose wisdom you did not realise at the time, but you realised many years later? Why don’t you share your experiences below?
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