Thursday, March 20, 2008

Be Encouraged!

Al Qur’an Surah 94
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Have We not expanded thee thy breast?-
And removed from thee thy burden
The which did gall thy back?-
And raised high the esteem in which thou art held?
So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:
Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
Therefore, when thou art free from thine immediate task, still labor hard,
And to thy Lord turn (all) thy attention.

The above scripture is one of my favorite chapters from the Qur’an and I often find comfort and encouragement from it when life’s challenges appear too difficult to overcome. We sometimes expect life to be easy and can get discouraged when it’s not which is why I find reading scripture so important. In our modern world where technology makes everything seem to go faster and require instantaneous results, we can often get caught up in the grind and forget ourselves. Then, when obstacles get in our way we scramble to find ways of removing them when if we had been in the mindset of remembering how God tells us to approach those obstacles, we could have saved ourselves a lot of stress. I call the mindset of remembering God and His will keepin’ the faith.

And keepin’ the faith is not just an abstract “feel good” phrase to me. There were (and still are) plenty of days when I have found it hard to keep the faith, but I did so in spite of the difficulty, convicted in my beliefs that everything in life ends up working out for the great good that God intends. For that reason, surrender to despair or giving up is simply not an option.

For example, my son recently entered an I-don’t-want-to-go-to-school-or do-homework-anymore phase and although we went through it for a little while in first grade, he’s in fifth grade now and requires a better explanation as to why he has to, especially when he’s in a crowded public school where his teacher unfortunately cannot give him the attention he needs; where there are limited resources and therefore limited activities; where they take so many standardized tests that it’s a wonder they have time to complete lessons on a level where the children can come away with a strong knowledge of what they’ve been taught. But when faced with this dilemma I was determined to keep the faith and to try and teach him how he too must learn to remain faithful in every aspect of his life.

I told him that the hadith says for us, mankind, believers, to pursue knowledge even if we have to go all the way to China and that the Bible says that in all thy getting, get an understanding; that it is good to learn and that we should strive to learn as much as we can in life no matter the circumstances. He still has his days when he is not motivated or inspired but at least he now knows the standard. He at least now knows that even if what he is learning may not be the most exciting or thrilling thing in the world, the fact that he is learning is important. This concept alone could mean the world of difference among our children that become so bored with school that they end up dropping out.

Remaining steadfast and faithful creates a platform for being encouraged. Even if it’s hard to find work, if public assistance barely assists anything, if interest rates on loans are daunting, and that’s only when loans are even possible, we must push on. In this way we realize that change is not just what we facilitate in society, but what we must start within ourselves. We must be encouraged. We must be faithful. We must persevere. We must reject evil. We must love. These things empower us and we must be empowered in order to change reality and empower others. God’s word says that He will not forsake the righteous and that He will help those who change what is in their own souls; that with every difficulty there is relief and so we must always keep the faith and then we can always be encouraged.

Peace and Blessings!

Life Reminders

Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is Gracious and Merciful
The Lord is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His Compassion is over all that He has made.

Matthew 11:28 Gentleness and Humility
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Surah 33:21 Beautiful Pattern of Conduct
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

Sahih Muslim, Book Unknown: Changing an Evil Action
“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

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