“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20
This past St Patrick's Day, just over two weeks ago now, I spent some time reading about Saint Patrick. No one ever taught me who he was, or why he's so honored with a very popular holiday. Based on what I learned about Saint Patrick was he was Irish, he must have wore green and he liked to drink beer. The picture that comes to mind is the Notre Dame leprechaun with a pitcher of green beer in his hand.
I wonder what the percentage of just Americans know about Saint Patrick? Before March 17, 2017 anyone could have known more than me, I suppose. Now I'm more educated and I'm excited to share a little glimpse of the legacy of Saint Patrick.
At just 16 yrs. of age, Saint. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and taken from his British homeland to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. He worked in the fields as a shepherd for 6 years under terribly harsh conditions, until God miraculously provided a way of escape for him to flee. As difficult as that time must have been, it was during those lonely years of enslavement, where he faced hunger, freezing temperatures, and pain, that he met with God, and found deep closeness in His Presence through prayer and meditation. What was intended for evil, God used for good!
After months back at home, recuperating and seeking direction for his future plans, Saint. Patrick felt strongly led to go back to Ireland. He knew God had brought him there for a purpose and he was burdened to share Christ with a lost nation.
History tells us that Saint Patrick followed his strong feelings to return to Ireland. And thankfully so! Saint Patrick shared the Gospel to many in Ireland and history tells us thousands were saved. Revival broke out among this pagan people, lives were changed, as many came to know Christ as Lord and Savior. But before that happened---St Patrick was a slave, he worked in the fields for 6 years under harsh conditions. What was intended for evil, God used for good!
Can we see ourselves like Saint Patrick? Maybe your struggle is today, or maybe its been a few days now, similar to Saint Patricks. Suffering isn't resistant to Christians and nor do we have to be a slave working under harsh conditions in order to be suffering. Suffering looks different to each of us. It could be overloaded with stress from your job, your struggle to help a depressed spouse, a child continues to lie and steal in order to feed an addiction, there is no shortage of what ones suffering could be. Pain is pain. One pain is no greater or no less than another. If you lost your job--its ok to grieve and admit you are suffering. If you are disconnected from a loved one due to disagreement--its ok to grieve and admit you are suffering. Both of these situations can be painful, one is not worse or greater than the other. Pain is pain. Though today may be pain, one day you will be able to look back and see what was intended for evil, God used for good. Can you name some of those situations that have happened? They are always a good reminder that God has us where we are temporarily for a reason and He brings us through for a reason.
Though God is not the author of evil in our world, and though often He does choose to shelter and protect us from the evil attacks of the enemy on our lives, sometimes He takes us straight through dark seasons. But it’s never to leave us there without a purpose. He will always have purpose and hope through what we may experience, however difficult it may be. He will always be faithful to bring greater good. Both the lives of Saint Patrick and Joseph in the Bible remind us of this truth. Sold into slavery, held captive, and imprisoned, yet set free for the “saving of many lives.” What was intended for evil, God will use for good!
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.