25 Apr – Feast of St. Mark, evangelist
St. Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of St. Peter who travelled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He was the author of the earliest canonical Gospel. He travelled with his cousin St. Barnabas, and with St. Paul, through Cyprus. He evangelized in Alexandria, established the Church there, and founded the first famous Christian school.
- Patron Saint Index
1 Pet 5:5-14
Bow down then…and he will raise you up.
Prior to commencing my doctoral degree, I had always been confident in my own academic abilities. I was not the most hardworking student, but I did not like to lose out to others (this only applies to academic results), and I found that whenever I pushed myself cognitively, I could attain very good grades. Buoyed by my achievements, I did not put limits on how far I could go academically. Fast forward to my postgraduate studies after I left my career as a science educator, and I was faced with a bewildering array of issues arising from my research — my complete unfamiliarity with social science theories, the difficulty of obtaining research data based on the esoteric nature of my research design, and my general lack of passion for research itself. To say that my PhD experience has been a humbling one would be a major understatement.
I wish that I could say that the hardships that I endured during my PhD journey brought me closer to God, but the opposite would be more accurate. Coupled with other issues that surfaced during the same period, I experienced many moments of despair. In the darkness, I only spiralled further and lost my grip on my usual sense of hopefulness. Every minor setback became magnified, and I seemed to lose understanding of what it meant to “unload all your worries on to him, since he is looking after you” (1 Peter 5:7).
That was when I realised two things — 1) I do not have a deep trust in God and I will falter when the going gets really tough; and 2) To be truly humble is not only about letting go of one’s pride and ego. It requires, first of all, a deep recognition of the all-encompassing love of God, that He can be trusted to “confirm, strengthen and support” (1 Peter 5:10) us, even if there is no sign that He is doing so.
Brothers and sisters, as someone who is still in the midst of climbing out (or you could say being lifted up, depending on perspective) of the pit, I have two things to say to those who are struggling with the faith. The first is to hang on. Live through the misery instead of trying to run away or reject it. The second is to take note of the good things that are pre-existing or are happening in your life. They are the signs that God is always there.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the strength to persevere through our difficulties, especially when we seem to be losing faith in God.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for the moments of blessing that we notice and remember, and for those that we take for granted. May we come to a greater recognition of His love.
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