Welcome to Daily SPARC – each weekday our chaplains, friends from the Penn Religious Communities Council and other voices from campus will be posting messages of support and encouragement. 

Today’s message is by Penn student Hanna Elmongy, ENG’15 M’20: 

As the situation with the pandemic began to escalate several weeks ago, I found myself angry and then scared and then guilty and frustrated. It was so easy to spiral through these negative feelings until a friend encouraged daily reading of Surah Yasin with the intention of healing. This shifting of the locus of control back to God helped me regain some agency that I felt like I had lost in the chaos: instead of helplessness I could pray for resolution that only God in his infinite wisdom and power could bring.

Since then I have been trying to build small habits of self-improvement, like keeping up my Duolingo French streak and reconnecting with faith. I’ve been tuning into Suhaib Webb’s Quran and Community gatherings and wanted to share some pearls I gleaned over the last few weeks.

*There is a distinction between fear and despair, and fear is a natural human emotion that can help us reconnect with God.

*A trial cannot be a punishment to the open and reflective heart because it causes a change that brings that heart closer to God. So the trial is actually a mercy.

*Having ups and downs in our sincerity and motivation for worship is a sign that our heart is alive. We focus on the peaks, but the dips also mean that our hearts are alive; it can’t be even keeled all the time. (For my medical nerds, there has to be a diastole for the systole.)