Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esther and the Quest for a Future

Photo Courtesy of: Kiana Bosman

“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” ~Esther 4:13-16

Do you ever worry about your future? Where will you go to college, will you get married, who will you marry, will you have children, will your children be heathy, how will you pay the bills, how will you deal with this loss or that trial, where will you live, will your husband leave you, what will your health look like as you age, and the list of worries can go on and on and on. Chances are you do worry about your future, at least from time to time. If so, you are in good company. 

Before Queen Esther was Queen Esther, she was a young Jewish girl named Hadassah. Hadassah was an orphan living with her cousin Mordecai as a Jewish captive in Babylon. To make a long story short, the king at the time, King Ahasuerus, had banished his wife for having disregarded his wishes. This meant that the position of Queen was open, and Ahasuerus went in search of someone new to become queen. The woman who ended up filling that position was none other than Hadassah, who now became known as Queen Esther. What the King did now know, however, was that Esther was a Jewish captive in his country. 

To make things even more interesting, Ahasuerus had as a member of his royal court, if you will, a man named Haman who hated Jews and, in particular, Esther’s cousin, Mordecai. Haman cooked up an evil scheme to do away with all the Jews in the country once and for all which would, of necessity, also include Queen Esther if her identity as a Jewish woman was made known. 

Queen Esther now found herself in an even more impossible situation than when she was first chosen to be queen (and that likely against her wishes). Now she either had to keep silent and watch as Haman had her fellow Jews murdered or else she had to speak up and risk her own life in doing so. 

I encourage you to take the time to read the whole book of Esther and taken in this epic story in its entirety, but suffice it to say today that Esther did put her neck on the line and not only approach the king (a capital offense if the king did not want to be approached!), but also admit to him that she herself was a Jew and knew of a plot to kill the Jewish people. God’s favor was clearly with Queen Esther and her being in the position to be able to be used to save the Jews was clearly a part of His amazing and perfect plan. And the same is true for you in whatever situation you find ourself in right now, in this moment. 

Perhaps you want to feel hope and encouragement in the powerful story of Queen Esther and God’s using her to rescue the Jewish people. But perhaps your own circumstances seem too dire, too dark, too far removed from the glory and victory and joy of Queen Esther’s uplifting testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness. Maybe you are in a dry wilderness season of the soul, and it is downright hard for you to believe you have a good future ahead of you.

May I remind you that the God of Esther is your God, as well? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is in the business of redemption, rescue, and restoration. Jeremiah 29:11 is an incredibly popular verse these days, which says, “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” This is a beautiful passage of Scripture all on its own, but, deprived of its context, it loses a bit of its luster and its rich meaning.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 says, “For thus says the Lord: ‘After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.’”

Isn’t that far more meaningful, especially when you are experiencing a hard time in your life? This Lenten season, don’t view Jeremiah 29:11 as a Polyanna-style verse that can’t possibly apply to your current life situation. Instead, realize the context of the promise - the Jews were going through an incredibly hard time when the Lord issued forth to them this promise! They were in captivity, much as the Jews of Esther’s day were! They had been taken away from their homeland. Things didn’t look so hopeful for their future! And yet, with their faithful God, they could have hope.

They could have hope as long as they turned to Him in their trouble. If they sought His face in their hardship, they would find Him and He would be faithful in His rescue and restoration of them and their situation - even though they had been terribly unfaithful to Him. 

The same can be true for you, friend. If you are hurting today, if you are broken, if this New Year is already starting out to be a dark one for you, look to your Healer, your Rescuer, your Savior, the One in Whom you always, always have a future and a hope. He is there. And He will not let you down.

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