(Esther 4:12-14, the Message) When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”
I know what it’s like to be given the diagnosis of cancer. No matter how bad the cancer is, whether stage 0 or stage 4, the diagnosis incites visions of our own mortality. It just does.
I’m not all that eager to live dangerously. Don’t get me wrong, I want to live fully, but I don’t want to live dangerously. I want to travel and see my kids graduate from college, but I don’t really care to skydive or go deep-sea diving with sharks. The rush of cancer was plenty for me.
So reading about a woman who chose the “mortality rush” of her own free will really wigs me out. I mean, c’mon, this King of Persia was highly risky. He’d already banned his previous wife from his presence for not showing up when he called for her. He loved to seek counsel from mean arrogant morons like Haman. So for her to show up to him uninvited was like asking for your own head on a platter.
But if she doesn’t show up, and the King takes counsel from Haman and has all the Jews murdered, well, then, she’s toast I suppose anyway. So it was now or later. Just because she was Queen doesn’t mean she’s safe.
When I read the Bible, I love being able to identify with the humanness of the characters. So here’s what I love about Esther. Esther takes three days to finally approach the King. What happens in those three days you ask? Prayer and fasting of course! If it were me, I’d get it over with. Can you imagine those three days of waiting. Wondering….will he kill me….or not?
And then, when she does approach him, she requests that he have dinner with her. And she invites Haman? What’s that about? Maybe this showed respect? I have no idea? Haman is the one plotting to have them killed remember, so why did she ask him to join them? So then, either she chicken’s out, or she’s waiting for the right timing, but she invites them to dinner for a SECOND night. Like one scary dinner wasn’t enough. This woman goes back again.
It just makes me nervous reading it.
And then there’s the way God works things out. Because the King couldn’t sleep he had his very boring daily diary brought and read to him and those accounts reminded him of a time that Uncle Mordecai actually saved his life. So the next day he asks Haman how he should thank the man who helped the king. Haman thinks the king is talking about him, so he ironically says “carry him through the streets on chariots dressed in purple robes.” So isn’t Haman surprised when the King tells him to go do that with Mordecai.
So then, Esther has her opportunity to tell the king the truth about Haman and his plot to kill all the Jews, which would include her.
I’ve had some scary things happen in my life. Cancer being by far the winner of scariest of all. I just don’t care to feel that rush again. But sometimes God calls us to do scary things. I think about the situation in Haiti recently. If I were a doctor I would think I would feel compelled to go, but man, would I be scared. Not even the ground is solid there. I don’t know what scary thing you’re facing today, or in the future. Maybe you know you have to do something and you have to wait. Esther had the good sense and the “God connection” to know to wait for His timing.
But the central message we get through Esther, her courage and her wisdom and her deep trust in God, is that God does have a plan for our lives. He is capable of working OUT horrible situations and he’s capable of working THROUGH horrible situations. There is a difference. And sometimes we really want Him to work things out and He doesn’t. This really sucks. I know I wanted them to tell me they made a mistake when I was diagnosed. And I really get angry when I hear someone else has died of breast cancer. I just can’t believe God allowed it.
As much as I wonder this, I still know that the God who cared for Esther’s well-being, still cares for me and for you, and as much as situations don’t always make sense, we cannot fully fathom how the puzzle fits together and how much good sometimes comes from the most horrible of situations.
Prayer: God, show your love for me even when nothing makes sense.