It is stated in the book “Al-Ibriz” that when tribulations descend from heaven, they first hit the awliya, according to their ranks: the highest wali will be struck by the heaviest blow, then it goes to the one next to him in rank, and he carries it, and so on, until the lowest awliya receive the last trials. It is in this way that the awliya protect the common people from tribulations, by taking them upon themselves.
This is one of the secrets of the awliya. As it is stated in the hadith about the Abdal: “By them people are given rizq, and by them they are given protection/victory.”
May Allah (swt) fill our hearts with love for the ones He loves!