This year as we have endured some very tragic and difficult circumstances, because of this God has been teaching me some very critical spiritual lessons. One of them is that we are called to do hard things.
I thought about so many larger than life examples in the Bible of people doing hard things. The Bible is filled from cover to cover with inspirational stories of perseverance, faith and courage. But I’ve really been thinking a lot about young Esther. Esther was called to do something remarkably hard that required sheer bravery, skilled planning and ultimately displayed a deep love for her people. This young inexperienced girl found herself in a role she didn’t want as queen and in a situation that required exceptional bravery . So much so that an entire book of the Old Testament was named after her and her story.
I was reading through the book of Esther recently hoping to gain fresh insight on how she was able to face her problem head on with such strength, grace and wisdom. Esther was a Jewish orphan being raised by her Uncle Mordecai, she was thrown unwillingly into the role of queen because of her beauty after her predecessor was disobedient to the King’s orders and de throned. Esther was a Jew, the King was Persian and unaware of his new bride’s Jewish heritage. Because of some very bad advice from the Kings most powerful advisor, Haman, the King agreed to destroy the Jews in all the empire. Haman’s hate for the Jews was simply because of Mordecai’s love for God and refusal to bow down to Haman.
Mordecai asked Queen Esther to approach the King on behalf of all the Jews facing annihilation and ask for the King to revoke His decree. Unfortunately for Queen Esther it was a veritable death sentence to approach the King without being summoned. Many amazing circumstances happen throughout the rest of the story. Spoiler Alert…Esther lives and she and her uncle both find extraordinary favor with the King and the Jewish people are saved, while their persecutor, Haman is not. Please read the book of Esther, YOU WILL LOVE IT!
It’s a short but intense book in the Old Testament, one that has many twists and turns. There’s extreme irony in the conclusion and God uses a young naive and probably “scared out of her mind” Jewish girl to save her people. I came up with a couple of observations about this story of Esther and her calling to do hard things.
First, there was Preparation. Esther was orphaned and raised by her Uncle Mordecai who taught her to love God above all else. Once Esther was chosen to be presented to the King, she had to go through a long twelve month process of beauty preparations. During this time she found favor with Haggai, the eunuch in charge of the concubines and the Bible tells us, “with everyone else who saw her”. She ultimately won the favor of the King and she was chosen to be his queen.
Mordecai finds out about the plot to kill the Jews and goes into a time of desperately seeking God’s help. Scripture tells us he goes through a period of fasting and prayer. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
Second, there was Obedience. Esther obeyed Mordecai when he asked her to approach the King on behalf of the Jewish people. She clearly was frightened at the thought but trusted Mordecai and ultimately obeyed God’s will for her in that moment of terror. I love the fact that she listened to Mordecai and had confidence in his wise counsel.
Esther knew her survival rested on her faith and in her God to save her, she understood the importance of being prepared for the challenge. It was crucial that she be obedient to God and to Mordecai who gave her sound advise and a divine call to action. Without the strategic timing of the events that unfolded, the King would not have accepted Esther into his courts and sadly thousands of Jewish men, women and children would have been slaughtered.
Esther wasn’t hasty in her reaction to the potential destruction of her people, but she was methodical and let the Lord guide her. She took each step of her interaction with he King and her adversary, Haman, very carefully, not wanting to get ahead of God’s plan. How many times do we find ourselves in a challenging situation and just want out? Oftentimes thinking we know better than God and don’t want to wait around for His perfect timing because it’s just too hard. The most well-known verse in the Book of Esther is found in chapter 4 verse 14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
God has called us to do hard things. If we are followers of Christ we will be challenged in our faith, possibly even persecuted. We will face times of terrible suffering and pain. But have we gone through the process of preparation? I think that is the key…it’s not if trials come, it’s when. When hard times come, are we prepared to face them? Have we studied Scripture and know God’s Word in our heart? Are we active in our relationship with Christ and with those around us that can help us in our spiritual journey? There will be times we will need to fast and pray desperate prayers.
God placed Esther in a position of leadership to fulfill His plan of saving the Jews in peril. Esther was tasked with embarking on a journey that would most likely end her life. She was called to do something extraordinarily hard, choosing between possible death for herself and that of her people. She listened and obeyed those wiser and older than she, Mordecai spent time fasting and praying and they were both obedient to God and His perfect timing. Don’t be afraid to do hard things, be spiritually prepared for difficult circumstances and be obedient to God’s timing.