What St. Patrick’s Journey Teaches Us About Adversity

Before writing this blog, my knowledge of St. Patrick’s Day read thus: it’s on March 17th,  something Ireland, and if you don’t wear green, you will be assaulted. If you live in America, I assume your knowledge of the holiday is about the same as mine. However, after doing some digging of my own, I have come to understand that Saint Patrick had to endure a fair share of hardships. Looking at his complete timeline, I now realize just how significant each one of his tribulations was to the cultivation of his impact and the legacy we see today. So, in the spirit of knowledge and cultural awareness, let’s take a look at the adversities of St. Patrick and what they teach us about our own struggles.

Saint Patrick (full name Maewyn Succat) was born in Britain near the end of the 4th century (386 AD). There is little information regarding his childhood, but when he was sixteen, he was enslaved by Irish pirates. He was then forced to tend sheep in Ireland as a slave for six years. As he became more accustomed to the Irish language and practices, Patrick began to grow in his faith. He started to pray daily and began to see his captivity as a test from God. One night, he heard a voice telling him to escape and return to his homeland. This led him to board a boat with a group of sailors venturing to Britain, and he was reunited with his family after being lost at sea for approximately a month. After escaping imprisonment, Patrick received a vision of the Irish people reaching out to him and was inspired to bring the Gospel to the citizens of Ireland. Although the people didn’t embrace him upon his initial return, Saint Patrick went on to become the most influential Christian figure in the history of Ireland, converting and baptizing individuals across the nation. He continued working with, and establishing, churches throughout Ireland until his death towards the end of the 5th century (between 461-93 AD).

As you can see, Saint Patrick endured a lot during his lifetime, but his faith carried him through such hardships. He possessed a mindset that didn’t allow him to give up when things seemed impossible to overcome. But, of course, I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase “don’t give up!” a million times in a variety of different environments. Every adult is aware of the importance of perseverance and developing a strong work ethic. The question is this: how? How can I build a mindset that helps me push through rough times? How can I look at adversity in a new light that helps me move past it? How do I not give up?

For starters, I would suggest ridding yourself of the preconceived notion that adversity has to be a bad thing. The words “adversity” and “hardship” can often come to our minds with negative connotations, which makes us want to avoid them. However, hardships can be viewed in ways that are less negative. For example, Saint Patrick viewed his enslavement as a test of his faith from God. Of course, the word “test” might also have a negative connotation for many people, but Saint Patrick understood that all good things come from God. With this in mind, he was able to view his adversity in a different way.

This transitions nicely into the next question people may have: how can I view my adversity in a truly positive light? As previously mentioned, understanding God’s goodness can certainly help us see our struggles positively. The Bible also specifically lays out how adversity leads to goodness in Romans: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4). If we begin to view our tribulations more as opportunities for character development and less as burdens we have to carry, it is more likely that we will have greater hope and energy when approaching such trials. When our hopes are high, we can garner the strength and energy to tackle whatever may be in front of us.

This leads us to the last, and certainly most important, question: where do I find hope? Saint Patrick makes the source of his hope very clear in his confession, written shortly before he died: “thus I give untiring thanks to God who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I may confidently [offer] my soul as a living sacrifice for Christ my Lord” (“The Confession of Saint Patrick”, par. 34). Because Saint Patrick put his hope in Christ, he had a renewed sense of energy when approaching adversity; he even began to view adversity more positively, which drove him to not give up when his tasks seemed impossible to overcome.

So, today as we’re pinching our friends and showing off our horrendous Irish accents, I hope this holiday can serve as a reminder of where our hope comes from. Even in our most troubled times, God is constant. We just have to remember to look up and know He’s there. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Written by Ryan (NEW: Click on author’s name to learn more about him or her!)

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Hope and Sickness

Have you ever been so sick that you were confined to bed-rest?

I have. That’s where I was for an eternity and a half. I laughed; I cried. I went crazy, Bob. To be completely honest, I didn’t even stay in bed for the entire month I was supposed to rest; as soon as I felt better (the first week) I returned to normal life with a passion I haven’t felt for a long time. I even looked forward to work, and no healthy American would ever admit that. I was curious to figure out why my enthusiasm was much greater than usual, and it got me thinking about several topics, the most prominent of all being hope.

First, why is the day-to-day life dreaded? I suppose, if you aren’t as lucky as we are at the Writing Center, your boss might drive you crazy. Maybe your classes bore you, or maybe your professor is a psychopath who thinks the students are all his guinea pigs. After weeks, months, or even years of this treatment, plus all the other things like family and friends and humans being annoying, we start believing that tomorrow isn’t going to be a good day. Tomorrow, in fact, starts looking like a putrid pile of pure pain.

That sort of thinking, as easy as it is to fall into, is very dangerous.

Let’s look back to when I was confined to bed. All the days blur together for me. Basically, I didn’t want to go sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to eat, or drink, or exist. I lost pretty much all hope that I could get better, because I was so caught up in the pain. I focused too much on everything that had gone wrong. Losing hope that our everyday lives can be wonderful is similar to being sick. I’d call it worse, since it can’t be diagnosed as easily as a physical symptom. Losing hope is like losing faith in God. He wants what is good for us; why can’t that look like a good day? (Yeah, I mean every day. But that’s another blog post.) Sometimes, I pretend that losing hope is smart because God isn’t a vending machine, and He doesn’t promise flowers and happiness and loads of money to His followers. But He does promise Himself. And He is very, very good, indeed.

Ever since I was diagnosed with chronic depression last winter, I end up relating most of my thoughts to my fight with this mental illness. (Suffer, my poor readers!) Hope is, by far, one of the most useful skills to develop when fighting things like anxiety and depression.  I say it’s a skill because it takes discipline to look at the world, circumstances, and others in a positive light and tell yourself to think well of these things. Negative thinking literally shapes your brain; negative thought breeds negative emotion, and negative emotion causes the brain to produce certain chemicals. In the same way, positive thinking can help a body function correctly. But not stupid thinking: the best kind of positive thinking is realistic and rooted in truth. Just because chocolate is positive doesn’t mean one can eat a truckload of it. That’s even worse for the body.

We still don’t know much about the brain. A lot of it is a mystery. But what we do know is that it’s an incredibly complicated thing. If we think, and look closely enough at anything, it’s extremely complex. The atoms that form molecules which bond together to form everything are complicated. I can’t even list half the periodic table, and those atoms can come together to make an infinitely more lengthy list of molecules. And these molecules bond together to form an infinitely more lengthy list of things. Look at your hand. Every cell in your body was intelligently crafted, beautifully made slowly over the years into what it is now. God knows where it all came from and how it was made. He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at the end. Like the Bible says: if we know how to give good gifts, as corrupted as our hearts are, imagine how much more does He!

So even when the body fails, don’t forget hope. It is a joy to be able to work and to be able to do productive things. Creation is beautiful, and we get to be part of it. It’s a miracle we exist. “There’s good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!” It’s worth enjoying, and praising the One who made it.

Written by Isaac

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Hope Restored

Hope Restored

Josh’s heart raced like that of a mouse scuttering from boulder to boulder, escaping the molting lava of Pompeii. Or, as a meerkat, fleeing the thudding hooves of a herd of Wildebeests. But Josh would have been content with either situation, for his predicament was far worse.

As a mere freshman, Josh faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: English 2301.

Testing out of freshman English, Josh entered college with chest held high. Destined to be the next Mark Twain, no English class could daunt him. So, he barged into his first class session of 2301. Bypassing the trembling students in the back, Josh strutted to the front row and stared the professor in the eye. Breaking a moment of awkward silence, the professor asked, “Can I help you?”

“No, but I can help you… teach this class!” Josh remarked, not releasing his glance.

But, when he saw the syllabus, everything changed.

“12 essays!” Josh exclaimed, “This is impossible!”

The professor chuckled and said, “Some professor you are, freshman.”


Josh sat on his couch agape. “What am I going to do?” He asked his roommate.

“You should visit the Writing Center. They’ll write your paper for you,” His roommate replied.

A sparkle graced Josh’s eye and his dreams shone anew. There was hope for his future. Navigated by destiny herself, no obstacle could impede him.

With the speed of Hermes, Josh rushed to the Writing Center.

“Here are my 12 essays. Write them for me.” Josh demanded as he flew through the Center’s door.

The receptionist calmly replied, “Sorry sir. We assist writers in developing their capabilities. We won’t write it for you, but we can certainly help you.”

Taken aback, Josh fell to his knees; once again, his dream slipped from his grasp.

“Do not be dismayed,” reassured the receptionist. Her hair burned golden in the light. Josh swore he saw an angel.

“Help is here.”

A hand grasped Josh’s. Leonard, a Writing Center consultant, pulled Josh up.

“Though times are rough,” Leonard stated, “You can’t give up!”

Leonard sat Josh down at the nearest table and said,

“If we work together, we can accomplish this task.”

“I now know that: though college is difficult, hard work pays off,” Josh responded, tears welling in his eyes.

Leonard grabbed an MLA instruction packet and sample essay. He and Josh discussed the rules for MLA, looked over the sample paper, and brainstormed some ideas for Josh’s first essay.

“See Josh,” Leonard explained, “the thesis is like a roadmap for an essay,” Josh nodded in agreement, “It is a brief, clear statement of the argument of your paper, helps you plan your paper, and helps your reader see how you divide your main ideas into subtopics.”

“Wow!” Josh exclaimed with fist held high. “Now I can write all my essays for English 2301 without having a panic attack.”

Restored, Josh galloped out of the Writing Center. As he skipped away, the sun set an orange aura on the horizon. Hope was alive, and so was Josh.

Co-Authored by John Brock and Ben Jones