Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Some hold to the notion that faith is really just a religious system—the I-have-my-own-faith mentality. Others look on the life of faith as a type of “magic formula”—the idea that God has promised me whatever I pray for, as long as I ask “in faith.” This life of “faith” in effect transfers sovereignty from God to man—God does my will, rather than my will being submitted to His. But true faith is a humble submission to the sovereign will of God, “in whatsoever state I am” (Philippians 4:11)
Patrick learned about the sovereignty of God early in life through great affliction when he was taken captive “as a youth, indeed almost a boy without any beard (Confession, sec. 10). Even then he knew that God had brought him low, into the valley of humiliation for a purpose and that he “deserved it.” He says, [and God] “scattered us among many peoples even to the ends of the earth, where now I in my insignificance find myself among foreigners.… And there the Lord opened up my awareness of my unbelief” (Confession, sec. 1, 2). God had a very definite purpose in the suffering of Patrick—suffering that proved to be for Patrick’s good.
It was in sufferings that Patrick learned to look to God and to lean on Him. This confidence in the sovereignty of God that Patrick learned as a young Christian never left him, and he leaned to trust the purpose of God for good in whatever came his way. In prayer he said, “So that today among the heathen I might steadfastly exalt and magnify Your name wherever I find myself, and not only in success but also in affliction And so whatever happens to me, be it good or bad, I should accept it calmly and always give thanks to God who showed me that I might place implicit and unlimited trust in Him, and who helped me so that I, for all my ignorance, should in the last days venture to undertake such devout and wonderful work” (Confession, sec. 34).
“Our Lord does not promise to change life for us; He does not promise to remove difficulties and trials and problems and tribulations; He does not say that He is going to cut out all the thorns and leave the roses with their wonderful perfume. No; He faces life realistically, and tells us that these are things to which the flesh is heir, and which are bound to come. But He assures us that we can so know Him that, whatever happens, we need never be frightened, we need never be alarmed.”—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones