Before a star is born

INsights 045, Friday 28th June 2024

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I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since the last edition of INsights came out on Friday 30th June 2023. It certainly wasn’t the plan for it to be on ice for so long. 

I’ve had an overwhelmingly challenging and somewhat surreal year since then, but I’ve just about survived it, and come out the other side with some amazing life lessons. 

You know, over the years, I’ve often thought and worried about the fact that I wasn’t being tested enough in life. 

So many luxuries, so many blessings, so many opportunities. 

That’s not to say I haven’t had some challenges along the way, but we often read and hear that God tests those He loves the most. 

So I would wonder whether I could possibly be amongst those He loved if it felt like I was having it relatively easy. 

We shouldn’t wish for difficulties upon ourselves of course, but I’m sure you can understand the concern. 


Having gone through what I’ve gone through of late, here are just three of the reflections that I feel I’ve been able to internalise more deeply given my experiences:

1️⃣ It’s not quite accurate to view hardships simply as tests and luxuries simply as blessings. They are both tests and blessings in equal measure. Both give an opportunity to move closer or further away from the divine. “We test you all through the bad and the good, and to Us you will all return.” (21:35)

In my case, I now see my seriously difficult year as one of the biggest gifts of my life. I can also see how some of the wonderful blessings I’ve had have been causes of my significant waywardness and deviation at times. 

2️⃣ Challenges are of multiple kinds. During most of my own periods of turbulence, the majority of those around me or those seeing me through their digital devices, would have thought I was completely fine. 

Sometimes the emotional and psychological troubles we endure are too overwhelming not to be visible, but often they’re not. Humans are very good actors and have a range of masks at hand.

Your best friends are the ones who are either sharp enough to perceive what is actually going on and make a sincere enquiry, or with whom you feel absolutely comfortable talking through your difficulties knowing you’ll get some wise and comforting words in return. 

3️⃣ Human beings aside, the ultimate realisation is that, on these criteria of friendship, God really is your best friend. He knows you through and through. You can reach out to Him at any time. He will listen to you day and night. Through revelation and inspiration, He can teach you everything you need to learn, heal and flourish.

In the end, dear reader, the greatest outcome that can emerge from any situation in life is for you to know all there is to know in the end: There is no god but God.

To really know. To feel. To internalise. 

We can all say the formula, but to live it deeply, thoroughly, passionately, that’s what life is all about, and what every new situation God thrusts us into can help us see more and more clearly… if only we would see!


The regularity and quality of these INsights are good indicators of where I am in terms of my level of motivation and determination as far as my life’s work goes. 

So the fact that they’ve been absent for a year shows that there’s been a bit of a gaping hole in me for a while. 

On a positive note, the fact that they’re now back and I’m committing to weekly output rather than fortnightly, shows that I’m feeling pretty robust at present. Long may it last! 

I may be wrong but, with hindsight, I now interpret God’s plan with respect to my life since last year as follows: 

Iqbal, even though you think you are, you’re not yet ready for the noble work you want to do. Your ego is a lot more inflated than you realise. 

It’s time to move to a higher level. But before you go up, I’m going to bring you crashing down.

I’m going to dramatically reduce your interactions with the rest of the world. I’m going to make you start looking inwardly much more deeply. I’m going to show you some devastating consequences of being distant from Me. 

I’m going to humble you through a whole series of personal challenges behind the scenes. Let’s see if you can get through them and if you still want to return to the arena again. Then maybe I'll let you back in.


I thank God for bringing me back. I really do, because at times I felt helpless and hopeless, a fly in a spider’s web. I worried about whether I would ever escape, whether I would ever be worthy of the work I really care about or at all effective at it. 

Having endured a purging and purifying process, it's clearer to me than ever before: nothing, and I really mean nothing, means more to me in life than to have done my best in striving for God’s cause. 

For myself individually, and for us all collectively, I regard failing to represent Him properly in our time and place as the biggest failure and embarrassment of all. 

There’s a lot of work to do, and I pray for steadfastness having emerged from the wilderness. 

I leave you with these beautiful words, which I found in my INsights 045 draft file dating back to December. I tried to jumpstart it then you see, but the engine didn’t come to life, so I gave up. Anyhow, this wonderful quote survived: 

For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen:

a gaseous nebula must collapse.

So collapse.


This is not your destruction. 

This is your birth.

If you feel like you’re collapsing now, or at any time in the future, hold on. 

You’re in God’s ultimate training programme, and as He says:

“Remain mindful of God. God will teach you. God knows everything.” (2:282)

Just pay attention in His class. Ask the right questions. 

Persist, and you will prosper.

After the mayhem, there will be miracles. 

Until next time.




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