Almighty Allah in His wisdom makes the human being go through various tests in life. He says in the Quran:
Do people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested?(29:2)
He also says:
We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient.(2:155)
Tests of Allah are different from the tests human being conduct for each other. The objective of Allah’s test is not to gain information and insight because in the universe there is nothing which is hidden from Allah. Rather it is for training and discipline purposes. The tests of Allah can be seen as challenges to rise up to, or opportunities for growth. When a gardener wants a strong tree he will start with planting a seed and make it face adversity as it grows so that it becomes strong and resilient. Similarly, the military will make its soldiers go through almost brutal exercises so they can become excellent soldiers. We see in these and other similar examples of this world that there cannot be a successful achievement without trials and hardship.
To understand more clearly why Allah tests us, consider the following points.
1) Nurturing of Potential. Human beings have a lot of capabilities within them for virtue and nobility. These qualities can remain dormant. Tests and trials reveal these abilities and allow them to manifest and grow. For example, a person may have a lot of inner strength but this can only manifest itself when there is a barrier to overcome. How the barrier is overcome reveals the strength and can even enhance it. There is then reward and status for the strength displayed. There can be no reward and status for hidden qualities.
2) Sifting of true believers. Those who have true faith will respond to trails with patience and acceptance of His decree. Despite the pain there will be an inner peace. But those with weak or no faith will turn away from Allah and be filled with resentment and anger. The Quran says:
3) Getting closer to Allah. When life is comfortable and easy it is easy to become heedless. But when there is pain and sorrow, a believer inclines even more towards God and seeks His help. The spirituality gained and the sweet taste of connecting with the Divine becomes a fruit of the test. It is only some people who are able to get such gains from tests.
It is human to feel discouraged sometimes and feel tired of tests in life. Tests are not easy to face, that is why they are called tests. This type of feeling can be countered through reminding oneself of the purpose of life on earth, seeking closeness to God, and also most importantly being grateful for the blessings in life. Sometimes we focus on the test only and ignore all other things that are good in our life. God cushions our difficulties with ease – Indeed with difficulty there is ease (94:5-6), but we don’t see the ease, only the difficulty. A constant reminder to be grateful, even for difficulties is a good way to strengthen oneself to face the challenges of life. The Prophet (s), when he thanked God for what he was pleased with, said اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَي هَذِهِ النِّعْمَةِ Praise be to Allah for this blessing. And when something happened that distressed him he would say اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلي كُلِّ حَال Praise be to Allah in every situation. (Hadith narrated in al-Kafi, v.2, p.97)
To conclude, a hadith of Imam Ali (a) is a powerful reminder of how to face tests:
Never say O Allah! I seek refuge from tests and trials from You, because, there is no one who is not put to trials. Rather say, O Allah! I seek refuge from You from such trials which may cause me to go astray (Nahjul Balagha, H#93).