There is relief and wisdom in hardship

Recently, I had to undergo epidural lysis procedure as a treatment for my back pain due to prolapsed discs.

The procedure was to help decrease chronic low back pain due to adhesions and scar tissue formation. The physician inserts a catheter into the epidural space in order to access the area of adhesions. This is usually done through the caudal canal, which is located at the base of the spine, via the sacral hiatus (quoting the surgeon’s exact words). The sacral hiatus is a natural opening in the spine near the tailbone. Aided by real-time X-ray imaging, the catheter can be seen on the monitor and directed precisely to the affected nerve root. Once the tip of the catheter is in place, medication can be injected to relieve pain at the source and dissipate the scar tissue.

It went smoothly; in fact, I dozed off during the procedure. The anaesthesiologist had, prior to the procedure, explained to me that the drug was supposed to make me only semi-conscious – I was expected to respond to the surgeon’s question as he goes through the procedure. However, I guess it did not happen. I do not recall answering any questions.

Anyways, Alhamdulillah – I guess everything went on smoothly and I look forward to seeing the results soon.

My brief hospitalization brought me to feel my weakness and entire dependence upon Allah, and gave me time for reflection. That was indeed a test from Him and, so much has happened over the last few months of my life, and is the case with every other human being on this planet; my trials are ongoing. Allah intends for sickness to remind us of our constant dependency on Him. He upholds the universe. Surely, this is true with regard to our lives and our health. He it is who fills our lungs with breath and causes our hearts to beat. He can at any time He pleases, choose to remove our good health and even to end our lives. We should therefore see our time on this earth as borrowed time, for He owes us nothing, and we should seek to redeem the time while we are still able to.

However, as human beings we tend to forget our dependence on God easily. When things are good, we forget Him. When things are hard, we fall on our knees and beseech His help. Such is the perennial problem of humanity. This is why we all require wisdom to deal with our everyday test.

A primary function of wisdom is to help us discern the source of our trials. Discovering the source is very helpful in understanding Allah’s purpose in each hardship.

The simple fact is that we live in a fallen world. We cannot prevent diseases, earthquakes, floods, suffering, war, and hardship in the world today. Sometimes, our trials come from making wrong decisions ourselves. These occasions are tough realizations because these are times when we cannot blame the problem on anyone else.

There is relief and wisdom in hardship. That is when one’s prayer is in its best form, Al-Quran recitation has more soul, and we truly feel broken as we prostrate before Him and appeal for His guidance, help and forgiveness. Only He can heal. That is always the case, of course, but realizing our daily indebtness to the Almighty, both in times of ease and hardship, is a tremendous gift from Him. I always like to remind myself of the following Quranic verse:

“There are among men some who serve God, as it were, on the verge: If good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: They lose both this world and the Hereafter: That is loss for all to see! (Quran 22:11)”

When we have strong faith in Allah, we look beyond the horizon of the everyday, especially when struck down by hardship, and remember that there is a power greater than we are. Allah will take care of events like sickness, depression, loss, grief and poverty – surely, these events are a lot more bearable when we have such a firm believe.

In addition, indeed the testing of our faith produces spiritual maturity, which leads to stronger faith in Him, and endurance. This enables us to withstand any assault, no matter what form the trials take. Allah strengthens us through His tests so that we can face trial after trial and still endure.

This is where faith makes suffering, sufferable. Moreover, Alhamdulillah, in Islam, suffering of any kind is a cleansing of sin. That is glad tidings, because expiation of sin in this life is a lot better than in the next!

Let us remember:

“O verily, with the hardship, there is relief, verily, with the hardship, there is relief. So when you have finished, then stand up for Allah’s worship. And to your Lord turn your invocations. ( Quran 94:5-8)”

May Allah guide us to the straight path, grant us all healing, and ease our trials.

Azril Mohd Amin│30 November 2008

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