Grace in the midst of trials
Born in Roman Britain on 17 March 387AD, St Patrick is one of the world’s most popular saints. Despite being born in a Christian family, Patrick didn’t really believe in God. It was only after a turn of events that led him to seek out a relationship with the Lord. Let us look at the life journey of St Patrick, and how God eventually used him to bring the Gospel to Ireland.
At the age of 16, Patrick was abducted and taken as a slave to Ireland. There, he worked as a shepherd for six years until the end of his captivity, when he escaped after having a dream from God. In his vision, he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast, and he did so in total trust. Upon reuniting with his family in Britain, a few years later, St Patrick received another vision from God calling him to return to his land of captivity to preach the Gospel. As written in St Patrick’s Confession, he saw in the night the vision of a man named Victoricus, coming from Ireland with countless letters. The opening words of the letter read, ‘The voice of the Irish’. Convicted of his mission to bring the Gospel to the Irish people, St Patrick then began his ministry in Ireland. The journey to serving God was not an easy one, as he had to suffer insult from unbelievers and hear reproaches of his returning to where he was enslaved.
The years of enslavement in Ireland was a trying time for St Patrick, yet it was also in those moments which led him to draw closer to God. As shared in his Confessions, he prayed fervently during his captivity, and as he does so, the love and fear of God came to him and strengthened his faith. While we are unlikely to be captured and held to slavery in a faraway country, we are bound to face difficulties and trials in our vocation. In such moments, we should not be discouraged or intimidated, but turn to the Lord in prayer instead. After all, our Lord reminds us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7).
Patrick’s trust in God is a shining example for us to learn from. With the love of God burning in his heart, Patrick was not deterred by hardships, nor did he harbour any bitterness toward his captors. Rather, he prayed unceasingly for his enemies. With thanksgiving, he shared of how God made him fit through the tribulations so that he can care and labour for the salvation of others where he once could not.
Putting our trust in the Lord not only allows us to find comfort, but it also open the way for Him to work in and through our lives, just like how St Patrick first got his personal breakthrough before ministering to the people of Ireland. This is especially important for teachers, as we spend much time with students in schools, who are in the stage of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. Do we trust God enough? Have we had that personal experience with the Lord?