Was there a time where you faced a challenge that was completely out of your control? Was there a time you really wanted something but felt it was impossible to get? Although it is true that we will not always get exactly what we want, but the Qur’ān reminds us that God has power of all things. The Qur’ān gives several examples of God giving things to people that seemed impossible from our perspective.
Zakariah, peace be upon him, was an old man and he wanted a son. His wife was barren, but he did not lose hope. He said, “My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy. And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir.” (Qur’ān 19: 5-6).
All of the physical and external signs indicate that Zakariah cannot have a son. He was old, his bones were weak, and he had a head full of white hair. His wife was similarly old and barren. However, he called upon God in private and never lost hope. Zakariah peace be upon him was responsible for caring for Mary. Every time Zakariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.” At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” (Qur’ān 3: 37-38).
He saw a miracle before his eyes, every time he entered upon Mary, he noticed that she had fruits that were out of season. She had the fruits of summer in the winter and the fruits of winter in the summer. When he witnessed that, he immediately called upon God and asked Him to bless him with a son. Similar to how God can provide Mary fruits that were not in season, He can give him a child despite his old age.
Similarly, God gave Mary a child without a father. She was not expecting this, and it didn’t make sense to her. She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is (Qur’ān 3: 47). She was afraid, in shock, and in tremendous pain. She was worried about her reputation, what will people say? And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented (Qur’ān 19: 23-26).
Mary peace be upon her, was stressed and worried to the extent that she wished she had already died. However, what happened to her was out of her control. It was God’s decree and He made comforted her. When experiencing the pain of delivery, God asked Mary to shake the trunk of the date tree. A woman giving birth is experiencing tremendous pain and is in no position to shake a trunk of a date tree hard enough so that fruits fall. God is the One who makes the fruits fall, but Mary still had to do her part and shake the tree with whatever strength she had. This teaches us that although things may seem impossible or out of reach, we cannot simply hope that God makes things happen. We also have to play our part and do whatever we can, the fruits or lack thereof are from God.
This also teaches us that when things get very challenging, God sends relief from where we least expect it. Whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent (Qur’ān 65: 3-4).
Ultimately, both the blessings and challenges in our lives are God-sent. He sends both the blessings and the hardships as a test. God alone knows what is best for us and what is harmful. It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” (Qur’ān 2:216). With some soul searching one can turn any challenge into a positive. Mary wished that she had perished before she had to experience giving birth to Jesus peace be upon him. However, at that moment she did not know that she and her child will be mentioned in the Qur’ān, that she will have a chapter named after her, and that billions of people in the world will look up to her as an example. Perhaps you do not see the fruit of your challenge or difficulty now, but if you have faith and patience you eventually will. Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be highest if you are believers (Qur’an 3:139).