Are you there, God? It’s me… This is an all too familiar question we ask ourselves, typically during times when we are facing a difficult situation, seeking direction, or when things do not go according to plan. However, when taking a more literal approach to the question of the actual location of where God resides, every religion has a different answer. Perhaps, a closer examination of these whereabouts will provide a more practical approach to where we ought to aim our attention to and how to deal with the difficulties that life can give us. Here are three practical steps that can help us in dealing with life’s hardships:
- Accepting the fact that struggles and hardships will come is the first step to dealing with them.
Muslim Perspective: Prophet Muhammad was recorded to have pointed to the sky and stated, “O God, bear witness!” Furthermore, the Quran states how Allah created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then rose to his throne, which is above the heavens and his creation.
Does that mean we should beat our chests and just look towards the sky? Not quite. Muslims believe that Allah is not bound by the physical, but is all-knowing, all-hearing, and all-seeing. He actually knows all our hopes, dreams, desires, and even pains but uses various situations to test those who believe in him.
“And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six Days …that He might try you, which of you is the best in deeds.” (Quran 11:7) Tragedies and tribulations may come and go, but instead of questioning why these things are happening and where he is in all of this, be comforted because of the simple fact that accepting the depth of suffering as existent is the first step in rising above them.
- Unwind and calm down. Because we are the source of the problem, we can also be the solution.
Buddhist Perspective: Many Buddhists do not actually believe in a creator deity, while others believe in multiple deities. Instead of just remaining in stagnant suffering, however, Buddhism teaches the importance of looking to oneself, holding to the belief that the external situations we face are created by our internal state of mind. So the next time you want to scream and blame God, take some time to find a quiet place to sit and meditate.
- Know that even though it may not seem like it now, as long as we continue doing “good,” we will reap the rewards one day sooner or later.
Hindu Perspective: Although there are many different facets and beliefs in Hinduism, most Hindus believe in “Brahman”—a supreme power that upholds all things, which manifests in a multitude of deities that each have their own characteristics or qualities. Many believe these deities exist in unseen worlds but interact with humans. They can take on physical form if they choose and influence the world in various ways. However, we are not rendered as merely a playground for them to do as they please but that is where karma kicks in.
Karma in Sanskrit is defined as “action”. Basically, every action we take has a reaction or response. So if we continue to have “good” actions, good, will naturally come back to us. However, when we commit “bad” actions, the responses we receive will reflect that. So if we’re in a case in which good actions are leading to nothing, maybe continuing to do good and prospering in the community will yield something deeper than what can be seen now.