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As COVID drags on, we can't help but wonder, “When will this end? When can I get on with life?” Many of us under a certain age haven't experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. So it makes sense that we're struggling to cope, it's understandable that we can't quite figure out what to do, how to move forward.
But the sense of solitude and uncertainty and anxiety that we're experiencing was also experienced by people long before us. And by long before us, I don't just mean something like the Spanish flu, which happened a century ago. I'm talking way before that at the time of the prophets and important figures we revere. They too were alone in the great unknown.
When we read the Quran, it's hard not to notice many people we respect and love who were all by themselves, grappling with unimaginably difficult situations. They didn't have a playbook. They had no precedent for which to act, and they didn't have the internet or cell phones to connect them with their loved ones and with people all around the globe. They were literally alone. I'm talking in the desert alone or far beneath the surface of the water alone. Not a single soul around. They were struggling on their own only with the help of God.
That's why I'm inviting you to join me in a new series I'm calling, “Alone in the Great Unknown.” I'd like for us to look into these accounts of well-known figures to discover what they did when they found themselves in challenging, unfamiliar situations. Because I believe we can learn life-changing lessons from these greats.
Let me briefly tell you about the five individuals I've chosen:
There's Jonah or Prophet Yunus. He was trapped deep underwater and couldn't see a way out.
There's Hagar called Hagar in Arabic. She found herself completely alone with her young son Ishmael in the desert, without food or water.
There's Joseph or Prophet Joseph. He was thrown into a well in the middle of nowhere and left to die by the very ones who should have loved him best.
There's Mary, mother of Jesus. struggling through childbirth outdoors in solitude with no one around to help ease her pain.
And there’s the Prophet Muhammad, who was alone in a cave until one day the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared and frightened him.
These are old stories, yes. And you must have heard them many times before. But perhaps you haven't really thought about it from this perspective, how alone these individuals were how uncertain and confused. What we're experiencing feels like small potatoes compared to what they went through. I believe we can learn important lessons from them. Lessons about resilience, trust, and faith.
In all of these stories it is very clear that God is present. God is responding in the Quran to the pleas of those crying out to him. And this gives us consolation that God will not abandon us in our time of need. We also see that God provides in what seems like impossible situations, out in the middle of nowhere. God shows these individuals, and by extension us, that there is always a way forward, a way out. We see how important it is that we rely on God, that we turn to God in prayer, seeking guidance and assistance. And we learn too that God can elevate the simplest of our acts and bring us to glory and success. Even when it seems impossible to imagine, God can propel us to greatness, can make our names known and our stories told to people long after we’ve lived. God can take our struggles and elevate them for far greater good than we could ever think of ourselves. These stories can help us shake off the tiredness, the fear and the confusion. They can help us cope better and move forward in a way that is pleasing to God and makes a positive impact on the wider world. Join me on Let the Quran Speak as we continue this series in the days and weeks to come.