{[And it will be said], ‘Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.} (Al-Insan 76: 22)

Failure can take a toll on a person: that feeling of trying and trying, over and over, yet somehow never getting where you want to be. Or sometimes the task just seems too huge to achieve; is there even any use?

We touched upon this a little when discussing thinking well of Allah and tawakkul. But this aspect involves knowing that nothing ever goes to waste. In the verse above, God tells us our effort is appreciated; it is recognized. That is what we get rewarded for. Whether or not we succeed, it is ultimately the effort that we put in that God takes into account.

One of God’s Names is Ash-Shakur: He is appreciative of what you do, no matter how small, and He rewards it abundantly. Imagine: God is so appreciative, He even rewards our intention! Therefore, we know that those who intend to do well, but cannot do it, are still rewarded. This feeling of failure is actually a deception from Satan to deter us from trying. He promotes neglect: “Don’t work on your relationship with your parents, they’ll never change,” and makes us doubt: “do you really think that your tiny effort is going to have an effect?” But God rewards us when we try because our trying is testament to the fact that even though we know we are a minor player, we are doing it for His sake.

Look at this verse:

{Or take the one who passed by a ruined town. He said, ‘How will God give this life when it has died?’ So God made him die for a hundred years, and then raised him up, saying, ‘How long did you stay like that?’ He answered, ‘A day, or part of a day.’ God said, ‘No, you stayed like that for a hundred years. Look at your food and drink: they have not gone bad. Look at your donkey- We will make you a sign for the people; look at the bones: see how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh!’ When all became clear to him, he said, ‘Now I know that God has power over everything.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 259)

This verse describes Prophet Uzayr (Ezra) when God sent him to revive deserted Jerusalem. Jerusalem was ruined by an unjust king, and when Uzayr (Ezra) arrived, it was so barren and deserted that he wondered how God would give life to this dead place. It seemed impossible. Still he worked the whole day, doing what he could with the little tools that he had, and laid to rest. As an example to him and to us, God caused him to die and brought him back to life 100 years later. Not only was this a miracle as his food and drink did not rot either, but Jerusalem was filled with new people and life. The Prophet Ezra (peace be upon him) would never have known that his small effort would culminate, by the will of God, in bringing the town back to life. But God shows him how it does, as an example to us – so that we never say “it’s a waste of time.”

Sometimes we deal with God as though He is a human being who doesn’t know about the worry we feel, the stress, the striving. When we fail to see the results of our effort, we think that we failed and that it was a waste of time. But God tells us:

{And never is your Lord forgetful…} (Maryam 19: 64)

If you try to work on your relationship with your family members but to no avail, remember, God knows about your pain. He won’t forget it, and He will give you compensation for it accordingly. If you want to work into making your community better, but something happens whereby everything you invested in it is suddenly gone, God always knows. The point is that we are not just about this world even though we’re in it. When we fall, we pick ourselves back up again because we are also about the hereafter – our ultimate hope is in God.

However, this doesn’t mean that we do the same thing over and over again knowing that it’s not working. What it means is not being defeated internally. We are Muslims, when one thing in our lives fails, it doesn’t make us feel down for an extended period of time because we know that even a step taken for the sake of God is rewarded. Let’s keep moving.

Don’t think that your efforts have been wasted. They have not. They are recorded with God Ash-Shakur, and if you don’t see the fruits of your labor in this life, surely God is keeping something amazing for you in the next.

By Jinan Bastaki