Trials, afflictions, and tests are some of the various words used to describe an unexpected or unplanned calamity that befalls someone at one point of their lives or another.
It could come early or late in life. It comes either directly or indirectly, while some people consider only evil, contrary events to be tests, Islam categorically states that it could even come in form of something longed for, awaited for or even ardently desired. Some people believe it is a repercussion for evil deeds in the past. If it is sin, everybody has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Whatever opinion you may hold about trials and their definition, the fact is that they usually happen without your effort just to make or mar you. While some religious scholars see trials as a test for promotion for the most righteous among people, others maintain that they are a wakeful call for those derailing from the path of righteousness so that they can test the result of their past evil deeds before the ultimate judgment of God after death.
Trials come in different forms; they could be delay in marriage, barrenness, divorce, marital problems, hatred, persecution, oppression, sickness, loss of job, and poverty among others. When they strike most people term them as the work of the enemy. They forget that this is life and everything is predestined by God.
The holy Quran has already given Muslims the premonition that Muslims will face trials on earth. Quran 1:55 says: “And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits but give good tidings to the patient.”
But unfortunately, some believers who don’t have enough knowledge tend to think it is only when ‘evil’ befalls one that he is going through trial. Some ‘good’ trials like success may become critical, but they know not. Believers tend to be mesmerised by positive trials but when the trial is negative it is so unacceptable and devastating.
The devastating blow it delivers sends its victim impulsively to portray a negative or positive attitude to life. The victim may become bitter and frustrated or give up completely on wanting to live life positively. Some people commit suicide because of their inability to cope with trials.
“The true gauge for a person’s strength of character shows up in his patience when calamity strikes, not when everything is going well and working well for him,” says Miss Zainab Labaran, an Abuja- based educationist.
Trials are painful transitions in life but with patience and calm one would see they also have a positive side. If the victim sees the trial as a test of firmness of belief, then it pre-empts him/her of the signs of severity of Allah’s punishment, thereby making him/her firm in faith. Pains of trials also produce strength of character. They bring out the best in a person, hence the saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
We should also see trials are evident in the lives of people chosen by God for promotion just as people shortlisted for promotion in offices and schools have to be tested to weigh their efficiency, so does God test us with trials in the spiritual realm.
Trials in the negative sense can truly be painful. It could be a period for you when your enemies and adversaries see it as the turn of the tide; a time for them to take revenge and laugh at you scornfully for whatever reason. It is a period of mental torture and sober reflection that no amount of money can buy but only prayers, supplication, charity and love can heal.
It could be a time when those who you expect will be there to show you love respond to you with utter hatred, criticism and humiliation telling you to your face that it is nemesis that has caught up with you, and then you begin to blame yourself, blame God, isolate yourself and become depressed. This usually makes one to move to the lowest level of his self-esteem.
“A time of trials is a time of indecision when most people take decisions that will have an adverse effect on them by either visiting a spiritualist, going into fornication or prostitution to make ends meet. It is a time of self-pity and depression for the afflicted,” Hajiya Bilkisu Muhammed, a housewife remarked.
“Such afflicted people may continue through life not only with hatred towards people they meet. It is only kind words and care towards such people that can help them go through their trying moments,” she added.
We need to realise that trials are normal occurrences in life which may affect both the pious and the sinful. The only solution for the pain is love and company. Only people who have been failures before success know who their true friends are. Any relationship which does not add to our joy is toxic hence should be severed.
Neighbours, relations, colleagues and religious groups should see it as a time to show love not hatred and revenge because no one knows what the future holds. The underlying fact is that trials come and go only if we handle them wisely.