Hey friends. I hope you all are doing well! Today, as you might already know, is Saint Patrick’s Day.
Oddly enough, I didn’t know it was Saint Patrick’s Day until I came to my computer to start writing this blog, and saw the Google Doodle for today. As I clicked on the Google Doodle, I found information on Saint Patrick that many people do not know—information with a striking similarity to that of the Chibok girls.
As you all probably know, the Chibok school girls were kidnapped from their boarding school during the time that they were going to take their exams. These teenage girls, anywhere from probably 15-18 years of age, had their physical freedom taken away from them; 112 still remain in captivity, today.
Well, contrary to what many people commonly think about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland was actually not Irish at all—in fact, he was British. But, at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders, where he lived for six years. As History.com puts it, “During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.”1
When one strips away the mythology and fame of Saint Patrick, he was simply a young man who was ripped away from his family, undergoing extreme hardship in a land he had never been in, before. But, it seems that this seemingly barren, horrible part of his life served a huge purpose. History.com goes on to say that “It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.” According to St. Patrick’s writings, St. Patrick stated that God gave him two visions: one to leave Ireland after being there for 6 years, and then, later, one to return to Ireland to do Catholic missional work there as a priest.1
This man, having lived through much terror, heartbreak, and confusion, was used by Christ to bring the Gospel to the mainly pagan nation of Ireland (many say that it was St. Patrick who used a three-leaf clover to describe and explain the trinity to those He shared the Gospel with—something we as people still hang on to today as a “good-luck” charm). Christ exchanged even the worst of St. Patrick’s ashes for beauty: sharing the Gospel, and seeing people become saved.
There are both striking and obvious similarities between the life of St. Patrick and the countless number of people who are taken captive every single day (including, of course, the Chibok girls). These innocent people do not deserve what has happened to them; the great suffering they have undergone seems to be too much to bear.
But, even throughout all the suffering and heartache, could it be that this pain has a purpose?
And do we believe that Jesus can, somehow, in His own ways and timing, exchange our ashes for beauty?
This was the idea I was thinking of when sitting in church this past Wednesday, during a midweek service. I jotted down some notes from the sermon, here they are:
“’I [God] will trade your ashes for beauty.’
You’re not the only one waiting for beauty.
I will bring good out of this—trust Me.”
Friends, what is the pain, the heartache, the hardship that you or your loved ones are facing, right now? I can’t help but imagine the pain, frustration, fear, despair, and helplessness these kidnapped young women and their families feel, being kept apart, and not knowing where the ones they love most are.
Joseph suffered through it. And today, on St. Patrick’s Day, I have learned that St. Patrick, too, was stolen like property.
But, through it all, Jesus was faithful. And as the watching world looks upon the Chibok girls, it is my confident Hope that Jesus is (and will be) faithful in His every promise concerning these beautiful young women.
Christ did bring beauty from ashes. And this is what He yearns to do, for you.
So, this is my encouragement for you, friend: wait for the beauty. Ask Jesus to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit, whose fruit includes patience; ask Him to help you to “wait upon Him.” There are a huge number of blessings and promises concerning waiting on Jesus’ work in your life . I exhort you to read, receive, and cling to them like the air you breathe.
Promises in the Waiting (copyright Annalee Hoover 2017)
Most of all, ask Him to fill you with Joy in His Presence, as you realize He is always with you; ask Him to show you the beauty that is already all around you, and rooted in who He is.
Jesus will come through, my friend. Rest in this promise, and wait for the beauty.
“He’ll bind up the broken-hearted/
Oh He will, yes He will/
He’ll set captives free from darkness, Oh He will, oh He will/
He’ll breathe hope into the hopeless, help a restless soul be still/
Oh-ohh, oh-ohh, He will, He will.”2
(“Oh He Will,” by Ellie Holcomb: Watch the video, here)
This post is dedicated to those who were kidnapped in Oyo state, Nigeria. Please pray for their soon return.
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus has done all that is needed for us to have eternal life with Him, enjoying and celebrating a personal, transforming relationship with Jesus. Learn more about this amazing, Joy-bringing God, and how you can have a personal relationship with Him, here.
Please pray for (get your prayer sheet here):
- The soon return of the Chibok school girls. May there be a breakthrough, and a pouring out of these people from Boko Haram captivity.
- The soon return of the Dapchi girls. May they not be forgotten!!!
- The family members and loved ones of these women.
- Those currently in sex and human trafficking; that they would be freed, in Jesus’ Name!
- Jesus to comfort and show Himself faithful to these people, who are watching and waiting for Him. Pray they would trust Him and His timing.
Thank you for your prayers!!!