St. Patrick’s Day is one holiday that most of the world enjoys celebrating. These days, celebrating St. Patty’s Day means green clothes, green drinks, and green rivers, with the loose interpretation of an Irish shamrock meets the luck of the Irish and “Kiss me, I’m Irish."
The real story behind St. Patrick’s Day begins with a teenager, who was believed to be named Maewyn Succat. He was not even Irish! At the age of 16, Maewyn was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland as a sheepherder. It was there that he learned the Irish language and began to pray to the God his parents had told him about. Maewyn was in slavery for about six years when he escaped. It is said that he had a dream from God telling him to walk along the coast and find a ship waiting to sail to Britain. He did as God told him in his dream and there was a ship, and he escaped.
There are many stories as to the timeline of Maewyn’s life, but one thing everyone agrees on is that after Maewyn returned home to his parents, he felt a calling on his life. He became a priest, where he adopted the name of Patrick. Patrick had another dream from God, which led him back to Ireland. He traveled and preached all across Ireland for 40 years, and converted many thousands to Christianity. Although he never received an official Sainthood from the Catholic Church, his popularity earned him his title of Saint and it was not disputed.
What appeared to look like bad luck for Maewyn turned out to be God using those circumstances for good and blessing not only Maewyn, but also thousands of others! Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
That wasn't the first time that God turned a “bad luck” situation around for good! In Genesis 37 we are told about a young man named Joseph who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph’s father Jacob favored Joseph over his older brothers, because Joseph's mother was his favorite wife. That was strike one.
Joseph also had dreams from God from an early age. These dreams were about himself being bowed down to by his family and being in a powerful position. Joseph’s immaturity resulted in him bragging about his dreams to his brothers, and his brothers didn’t like it one bit. Strike two!
When Joseph was a teenager, his father had a beautiful coat made for him, one with expensive material that only royalty would wear. Joseph’s older brothers, who spent most of their time tending sheep and being dirty, did not have such finery and were jealous of Joseph’s coat. Strike three!
Many of us know the story well. After deciding not to kill their younger brother, they instead decided to dig a hole in the desert floor and throw Joseph in it. They then found someone who would buy him and sold him into slavery. After many trials and small victories as a slave, God used Joseph’s dreams once more to promote him to a coveted position under his master. Eventually Joseph rose to become vizier, the second most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh. People bowed down to him, including his own brothers.
In these two stories, it would appear these men were lucky to be blessed, which seems like an oxymoron; a combination of words that have very different meanings. The dictionary defines luck as a force that brings good fortune or adversity by chance; it is indefinite and unpredictable. Whereas blessing or blessed means enjoying happiness; conducive to happiness or welfare; bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.
I was diagnosed with cancer back in 2009, and while I by no means want to go through that scare again, or the treatments that followed, I still tell people that it was a blessing in disguise. I have always been a "do-er." I hit the ground running--or, in my case, walking--outside or on the treadmill, and I go hard all day. I am a list maker and have things planned in my calendar just about every hour of every day.
When I was going through chemotherapy, I was forced to slow down. There were days where I made it downstairs in the morning but did not have the energy to get off the couch all day. It was those days that I had my Bible, my computer and my prayer time almost the entire day. I leaned on God, I learned to love His word, and I cherished the time I was able to spend in His Presence. Once I was able to go back to work, I missed those quiet times with God.
It is to the darkest times of my life that I look back most fondly. Not only did I come to love God more, learned more from His Word, and had the time to pray for others, but I also learned to appreciate more, love more, and be thankful for more than I ever had in my life. I just celebrated 7 years of being a survivor, and life has settled into a new normal for me. I am healthier than I’ve ever been, and I am able to help others on their pathway to health. Being physically stronger and healthier is truly a blessing born out of what seemed to be bad luck. I now have a new purpose in life and I am passionate about it, something I never had in the corporate world. I am able to help others become healthy while at the same time minister to them through prayer and God’s word to assist them making their spiritual life healthy as well. So, am I lucky, or blessed?
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows," James 1:17.