بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَانِ الرَّحِيمِ
Pain: all of us dread it. It would probably not be too far-fetched a claim to say that no one in their right mind would ever want to experience any kind of pain, at least willingly, in life.
We all dream of living a life sans pain of any kind. We wish it were smooth sailing always.
That being said, pain is a part of life. It has been decreed by Allah to come into our lives time and again at different stages and stepping stones, sometimes by surprise, sometimes with full expectation, and in different grades and forms.
Sometimes the pain is physical; sometimes, it is emotional; and sometimes, it is mental/psychological. At other times, it is a combination of all three – the worst kind!
There are so many different kinds of pain that we endure during the journey of our lives: such as the pain of sacrifice, the pain of separation, the pain of forbearance, the pain of regret, the pain of loss, the pain of rejection, and the pain of illness and injury, to name a few.
The good news? There are many angles to the way pain can be perceived, especially once we realize the fact that it is actually good for us, if we put on the lens that allows us to see that good that pain brings.
New Beginnings & Blessings
Whether it is a 6-to-10-year-old child burning with fever because a molar tooth is breaking out through their gums, a young executive overworked to the point of burnout just before they receive a surprise promotion at work; a birthing mother screaming in agony as her baby’s head crowns; a youngster feeling a deep pit in their stomach as they wake up for the last time in their parents’ home on the morning of the day they will move out for the first time in their life; an aspiring businessperson investing all of their hard-earned savings as capital in their startup; or an athlete/fitness aficionado feeling every muscle in their body ache as they finish their last lap/round — pain, many a time, heralds the arrival of a new blessing, milestone, level of success, or achievement.
Many a time, enduring excruciating pain means that one is just about to receive a big blessing or good fortune.
The rope is stretched to the maximum just before it breaks and all the tension is lost.
So whenever you feel that you are enduring too much pain in life, recall that you might be inching very close, with each passing day, to that final moment of relief – of receiving a coveted form of good, or a fortune.
Growth and Bloom
Life is in a constant state of change.
We progress from one phase in life to the next with time, but the transition from one phase to another is usually painful.
Some transitions are upgrades, and not just in the material sense. I mean more so in the form of personal and spiritual growth and ascension, in that the person becomes more productive, worthy, beneficial towards others, and successful in their endeavors as a result of enduring the pain of transition.
They also increase in rank and honor, both in this world (viz. rising in the eyes of people) and in the next (being upgraded in the books of Allah as a more righteous and beloved slave/believer).
How is this different from the point above? Well, above I explained how pain precedes the acquisition of a worldly blessing, whereas here, I am pointing out the fact that the endurance of pain (of any kind) over a period of time, leads to personal growth and success – of the person, as an individual. Their worth and qualities improve and increase.
So if you are experiencing hardship, trials, difficulties, or any kind of pain, know that if you endure them with faith, patience, and forbearance, using them to bring you closer to Allah, you will emerge from this phase a much more honorable, better and righteous person.
Sort of like the sumptuous cake or succulent whole-roasted bird that emerges from a scorching oven after an hour of being subjected to severe, concentrated heat in a closed environment.
Personal growth and success is just not possible without experiencing pain!
Strength & Resilience
If it won’t kill you, it will make you stronger.
Strength of any kind needs pain to be acquired. Whether it is spiritual or physical in nature, a person who possesses any degree of strength and resilience is the one who has endured much pain first, in order to get it.
This applies not just to people, but also to organizations, companies, and movements. Anything worthwhile that you see standing tall and strong today, took months if not years of painful toil to get erected and made to stand firm.
So do you want to one day become a stronger person? Stronger in faith, spirituality, knowledge, personality, emotion, and belief? Capable of facing, enduring, and overcoming even bigger challenges than you already have?
If so, then be grateful for the pain that Allah has decreed for you to experience up till today. And resolve that, if any pain comes your way later on in life, you will face it and try to overcome it with grit.
Because only then will you become stronger.
Insight, Foresight, & Wisdom
Last, but definitely not the least in the list of the positives of pain, is one of the blessings that the Qur’an has described as abundant “khair” (good):
يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ
“He gives wisdom unto whom He wills, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly has received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding.” – 2:269
Many if not most people traipse through life without really understanding or fully deciphering its realities and subtleties. Few make the connections between cause and effect. Many repeat their past mistakes, give up too soon, and fail to get out of ruts that they are stuck in.
Few achieve the growth and resilience that endurance of pain can allow a person to achieve, for the simple reason that they give up too soon and become hopeless about being able to turn their life around for the better, and about attaining higher ranks of personal achievement and success.
Wisdom is indeed one of the best things that a person can be blessed with. So, what exactly is wisdom, and what is its relationship to pain?
Well, according to my personal experience, wisdom is the ability to see things, people, events, happenings, and everything else in life – as they are. To give each thing the priority that it deserves. To be able to correlate causes to effects, and actions to outcomes. To be able to learn lessons in a way that you do not repeat your mistakes. To keenly observe the world and to be able to see why things happen the way they do.
Wisdom allows a person to prevent major catastrophes, and to breeze through the mundane trivialities of life, by recognizing the easier options and going for them, thereby saving oodles of effort and time from being wasted on less important matters.
Wisdom grants a person tremendous insight and foresight, both. Insight is the ability to clearly see right through every matter, down to its lowest depths. And foresight is the ability to predict the nature of future (long term) outcomes of the actions that are being done today, in the present.
Lastly, and very importantly, wisdom allows a person to see other people as they really are. It sounds very simple written down, but in reality, being able to see people without anything blinding you is a great blessing indeed. It is very difficult for hypocritical, shallow, and insincere people to deceive, manipulate, or fool a wise person in order to achieve their own motives.
This is because wise people are granted a special kind of ‘eye’ by Allah, which allows them to detect, screen (sort of like a scanning security camera or device) and remove the insincere people from their lives, thus remaining unaffected by their vileness and ulterior motives. Removing the negative influence of such insincere people from their lives, in turn, leaves them more time and positive energy to pursue those beneficial pastimes in life that will actually impact them in the best manner in the Hereafter.
Now, for the relationship between pain and wisdom. Well, what I have seen is that enduring pain & hardships grants a person wisdom because any kind of suffering, if it is endured with hope, sincerity, good faith, and trust in Allah, – despite all the odds – leads to the acquisition of a special kind of deep, insightful, and beneficial knowledge regarding the practicalities of life and human behavior that makes living, learning, and handling challenges, so much easier and fruitful for the person. You just begin to see things – everything – as they are. The veils of prejudice, blindness, and ignorance are permanently removed.
It is like, passing each threshold of pain opens the door to a deeper level of wisdom.
A point comes in the life of a believer when he or she is actually grateful to Allah even for the pain He sends their way, because they know how much good it brings.
Yet, pain is something from which we all should seek refuge with Allah. However, if He does decree pain for us, we should nevertheless be happy about the fact that, besides cleansing us of our sins and raising our ranks in the Hereafter, this pain will definitely bring us some credible and worthy worldly blessings as well – provided we endure it with faith, sincerity, patience (sabr), goodwill, hope, and trust in Allah’s will & decree.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Qur’an has documented how almost all the Prophets of Allah endured different kinds and varying levels of pain, especially that of social persecution, which is a special kind of pain that most of us hardly ever experience in life.
As they say,
No pain, no gain.