I try to the best of my ability to do what Allah asks of me, so why, time and again, do I fall upon hardship?
Why are my good deeds rewarded with pain instead of blessings and ease?
Why does Allah let me fall?
Why does He let me fail?
And why does He leave me wondering what I'm doing wrong?
Sometimes Allah allows us to fall because there's something down there we were meant to find.
Maybe He wants us to find humility, or patience. Maybe He takes away some of our blessings because He wants us to find gratitude for what we have. Or maybe He tests us with hardships, because in our most desperate states, we all instinctively turn to the only one who can help us, we turn to God. We may be tested for this reason, because He wants us to find our connection to Him again. He wants us to have reliance on Him.
When questioning why our good deeds are not rewarded, we must always remember that our reward is in the hands of God, and He will give and bestow as He sees fit. He is The Delayer (المؤخر) and Withholder (القابض), but He is also The Bestower (الوهاب) and Provider (الرزاق). He has unlimited reasons for why He delays answering our prayers or withholding blessings. There may be hidden blessings in all of the hardships we face.
While we may have our prayers answered and receive temporary rewards in this life, our ultimate reward is with Allah in the next life.
وَٱصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
"And endure patiently, for Allah does not waste the reward of those who do good." (Quran, 11:115)
It is Allah who tests His slave, and not the slave who tests Allah. You can't place an ultimatum on God such as saying, "I will start praying if Allah allows me to pass all of my exams." This is a form of testing Allah. Allah blesses us with what is best for us, not always with what we ask for. Anything which brings us closer to God is a blessing, and anything which makes us turn from Him is a calamity.
Allah may not always bless us with what we want, but that doesn't mean He doesn't give us what's best for us. Sometimes we allow the things we want to blind us from seeing what we really need. And Allah knows our needs better than we do.
Every heart prays for what it desires, but Allah responds with what is better for us. Sometimes we pray for things that would have ended up being bad for us in the long-term, so not attaining these wants is actually a blessing from Allah.
When it comes to our wants and desires, we can become much like children. A child may want to eat nothing but chocolate and sweets, but no mother would allow this. She doesn't restrict these things because she wants to punish her child and keep him from having what he wants, but because she knows it's not good for his health and well-being. Just as Allah may not bless us with everything we pray for right away because He knows in the long run, it's not good for us or our spiritual health. And Allah is far above any analogy.
We mustn't view tests as a form of punishment from Allah, but rather as an opportunity for improvement and success.
Allah already knows our fate, tests are not a way to determine it. He tests us in order to reveal our true nature to ourselves. Once one understands their true nature, their own weaknesses and shortcomings, one can use that knowledge to better themselves. If you know your true self, it will be much easier to prevent yourself from falling into sin and giving into worldly temptation.
The Prophet Muhammed stated, "If God wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials." (Sahih Bukhari)
So instead of praying earnestly to escape our trials, let us pray for Allah to unveil our eyes and increase our mental capacity so that we may understand WHY we have been tried and how we can rectify our actions and habits in order to better our characters and increase our faith in Allah.
"Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment, and whoever is angry upon him is wrath." (Tirmidhi)
The point where we must often fall is in letting hardships make us hateful toward Allah.
Think of some of the most pious people you know...Can you say that they live lives of complete ease, free of hardships? Probably not, because none of us will ever reach a point in our lives when we no longer have lessons to learn and mistakes we must rectify in order to better ourselves. Do the pious and righteous among us turn their backs on Allah when they are faced with hardships? No, they instead allow hardships to strengthen their faith and turn even more persistently toward Allah than ever before. This is where the key of success lies.
مَن كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا
And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion. (Quran, 65:2-3)وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا