Why does God allow hardship and adversity on believers?

There are a number of reasons why God allows hardship and adversity to befall people. Even the genuine believers experience hardship and adversity at some stage in their lives in accordance with God's wisdom and Grand Plan.

1- It is God's design to subject people to various tests entailing hardship and adversity so as to test their faith, their resolve and their trust in God:

Do the people think that they would be left to say, "We believe", without them being tested? 29:2

We have tested those before them, so that God would know the truthful ones and He would know the liars. 29:3

also:

We will surely test you through some fear, hunger and shortage of money, lives and crops, so give the news to the patient ones. 2:155

To pass the test, the believer must maintain his belief that only God can relieve his hardship. The believer will always maintain his prayer and call unto God:

Who is the One who responds to the one in need when he calls upon Him, removes the adversity and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a god with God? Rarely do you take heed. 27:62

2- Hardship and adversity is also decreed by God as a cleansing of our souls for sins we have already committed. As a result, some of the bad things that happen to us are a direct result of sins we have committed:

Whatever disaster strikes you is but a consequence of what your own hands have earned. Still, He pardons quite a lot. 42:30

It can also be said that God, being the Most Just, would not punish us twice for the same sin. This means that the punishment we are given cleanses us and no further punishment is due.

The concept of cleansing the human from sins in this life is a Quranic truth. It can be achieved through the experiencing of hardship and adversity (as 42:30). It can also be achieved through the giving of 'sadaqa' (charity) for the specific reason of cleansing the soul from sins which have been committed:

Take a 'sadaqa' (charity) from their money to cleanse and purify them with it and support them. Your support provides them with tranquillity. God is Hearer, Knowledgeable. 9:103

3- Suffering through hardship and adversity is also a reminder for people who tend to take things for granted and forget all of God's blessings. Despite all the blessings given to the human by God, the human being is unappreciative. A little reminder in the shape of hardship or adversity may hopefully remind the human not to take God's blessings for granted:

If you count God's blessings, you can never encompass them. The human being is indeed transgressing, unappreciative. 14:34

If We grant the human being a blessing he turns away and distances himself, yet when adversity touches him he implores profusely. 41:51

4- Adversity and hardship is also a very effective reminder for those who are too much absorbed in this worldly life; thus they may not be as devoted to God as they should be. Due to their being too preoccupied with this worldly life they do not seek God nor call on God as they should:

He is the One who enables you to travel in the land and sea. When some among you were on board a ship that carried them through a pleasant wind, with which they were pleased, they were stricken by a stormy wind and waves that hit them from all directions. They realised that they were totally surrounded and so they implored God devoting their prayers to Him alone: "If You save us from this, we will be thankful." 10:22

But then, when He saved them, they go transgressing in the land unjustly. O people, your transgression only falls back on your own selves. An enjoyment of the worldly life, then to Us is your ultimate return. We will then inform you of what you had done.
10:23

5- Many people are either oblivious of, or need to be reminded, of God’s absolute authority. Hardship and adversity are one way to remind them that no one can save them but God, and also remind them of God's absolute authority. Some people need to be reminded that they need God every minute of their lives. Sadly, when God relieves adversity, many people return to idol worship once again:

O people, you are the ones who are in dire need of God, while God is the Rich and Praiseworthy One. 35:15

If the human is touched by any harm he calls on Us, then if We bestow a blessing upon him, he says, "I have been given this because of my knowledge!" Rather, this is a test, but most of them do not know. 39:49

And if adversity touches the human being, he implores Us on his side, sitting down or standing up. Then, when We relieve his adversity, he carries on as if he never implored Us about a hardship which had touched him! The works of the transgressors are thus adorned for them. 10:12

When any harm touches the human being he implores his Lord in a state of sincere devotion to Him, but then if He grants him a blessing from Him, he forgets what he was calling for before and sets up equals to God so as to divert others from His path. Say, "Enjoy your disbelief for a little while for you are indeed among the companions of the fire." 39:8

If harm afflicts the people, they call upon their Lord in total devotion, but then, if He allows them a taste of mercy from Him, some of them revert to associating partners with their Lord. 30:33

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Tests designed by God