I'm glad I sit on this side of Queen Esther's story.
As I've read through the book multiple times now, and digested a couple of commentaries, I can't tell you how thankful I am to not be Queen Esther.
I can hardly wrap my mind around the position in which she was placed; the decisions she had to make; the courage with which it took to step-up and be a voice; or, the wisdom she needed to cautiously take each and every step!
Example: when the King extended his scepter to her, and asked her what she wanted, then told her he'd offer her up to half the Kingdom --- what made her hold her tongue and only invite the King and Haman to a meal? At dinner, what drove her decisive response to invite them a second time and not speak up immediately?
I'd have been a blithering mess at the moment I touched the end of the scepter...spilling my guts immediately.
Not this woman.
Esther calmly, with her royal head held high, approached the King.
She came with a plan...or, rather, she came with the Spirit of the Lord whispering His plan in her ear, and enough assurance in her soul to hear those whispers in spite of the magnification of her heart-beat pounding in her ears.
On this side of Esther's story, we relish in seeing God's victorious Providence work itself out.
Knowing what we know, we rest peacefully as we read the words of this small book, knowing the outcome; and knowing God, in spite of the lack of evidence, drove the sequence of events.
Yes, we are fully aware, God's hand was in the glove of every unfolding scene.
Esther, on the other hand, didn't have a crystal ball to see how Providence would play itself out.
It's evident to me, as I read (and, in spite of what one author has written) that Esther had faith. She knew God. She knew His promises. I believe she petitioned Him on behalf of the promise that He had covenanted to His people, through Abraham:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Or, maybe this one from Isaiah (54:17)
No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.
We are not unlike Esther, you and I.
When in the middle of HARD, we do not know how Providence will play itself out...
There is no crystal ball for us, either, to look ahead and see what God might do...
When we have to step into the hallway and present ourselves to the King, we don't have a clue whether or not the scepter of grace will be extended to us in the manner we hope...
When consumed with the need to make a decision, our elevated heart beat drowns out that still small voice of the Spirit...
When we are "Esther," what steps do we take until God brings His Story in us to a conclusion?
Esther shows us how to be "Esther," when life is out of control.
Of course, implied in fasting is praying.
The most important thing we can do when hope is waning, God seems silently missing, and, life just heaps one stone of disaster upon another is to seek the Lord's direction through prayer and fasting.
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
All of these go better with a fast.
But, but, but....
I can think of a million reasons why I can excuse away fasting, because it is so HARD.
Truth is that the bigger the difficulty, the more I need God's direction; the harder my situation, the more I need to meet it head on with hard-sacrifice.
It's not easy.
Yet, look at the outcome for Esther:
* She came prepared...
* She entered with her head high, dressed as the Royal Queen she was, not a poverty-stricken, condemned Jewish girl...
* She came hearing the whispers of the Spirit...
* She came in tune with God's heart...
* She entered into the presence of her husband with calm assurance...
* She met trouble head on...
* Most of all, when Esther first responded to Mordecai with these words, "And if I perish, I perish..." they were spoken with an air of resignation; but, by the time she stood before King Xerxes, those words weren't spoken in resignation, but with firm reconciliation.
There is a huge difference between the two (ponder that this week).
I never want to play the martyr.
I want to become friends with every hard challenge I face.
When I do; IF I DO...I also begin to see that light at the end of the tunnel I'm seeking...
...I find HOPE!
Think on it...
Next week, we'll explore this idea a little more....