“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Corrie Ten Boom
When dealing with life’s hardships, one of the first things we tend to do is to question God. After all, if God is with me, then, why am I going through hardship? Shouldn’t a good God protect me from such things? Throughout my own life I’ve faced this same doubt. I remember, fairly recently, that I had found my dream job. It was exactly what I wanted to do, at least for this phase of my life. But different events and circumstances forced me to see that the job I thought was made for me was, in this case, a mirage. I was greatly disappointed and confused when I discovered this. I wondered why God would lead me down a path if I was just going to end up worse than I was before I started. As I was dealing with these doubts, God guided me to a particular story in His Word. This story was the story of Esther.
The story of Esther begins, with a party, a 180 day party, to be precise. King Ahasuerus of the Persian Empire decided to throw a party for all of his government’s officials. During this party the king became drunk. In his drunkenness, he ordered his queen, Queen Vashti, to appear before him and his officials wearing nothing but her crown. The queen refused. So the king’s advisers convinced him to replace Queen Vashti with a new queen. The king appointed officials all throughout his domain to bring to his palace all the attractive women they could find so that he could look them over and find the most beautiful one to be his queen. One of these women brought to the king’s palace was named Esther. Now, Esther was a Jewish woman who was raised by her cousin, a man named Mordechai. In those days, the Jewish people were not trusted or liked by the majority of the Persian Empire. So, before Esther was chosen, Mordechai warned her not to tell anyone of her nationality. Esther agreed and, along with many other women, she was taken to King Ahasuerus’ palace. Esther quickly won the favor of many in the king’s court because of her unparalleled beauty. Soon, because of her beauty, Esther was chosen to be queen.
Shortly after Esther became queen, Mordechai discovered a plot to assassinate the king. Mordechai told Esther and then Esther informed the king and she gave credit to Mordechai for discovering the assassination plot. The men who planned the assassination were hung and the event was written in the kings records.
After some time, a man by the name of Haman was promoted by king Ahasuerus to become second-in-command under the king. Haman demanded that everyone bow to him. Yet, Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, refused. This infuriated Haman so much that he convinced the king to give him permission to destroy all of the Jewish people, Mordechai’s people, in the Persian nation. Mordechai pleaded with Esther to go before the king and intervene for her people. Esther feared for her life but asked all the Jewish people to join her in a fast for three days and three nights and at the end of the fast she would risk her life and appear before the king to intervene for her people. After three days Esther appeared before the king. Instead of killing his queen, King Ahasuerus told Esther that he would grant her anything she requested. Ether asked the king to hold a banquet that night and to invite her and Haman. The king agreed to this and at the banquet Esther requested that they have another banquet the following night where she would inform the king of her request. The king agreed. The night before the second banquet, the king had trouble sleeping so he asked that his record books be read to him. That night, the story of Mordechai discovering and informing Esther of the plot to kill the king was read to him. This reading reminded the king of this event and he asked that Mordechai be rewarded. So the next morning, the king called his second-in-command, Haman, to appear before him and he asked Haman how a king should reward someone who had won his favor. Haman, thought that the king was talking about him, so he said that the king should give the one that had found favor with, gifts and honor. Haman became furious when he discovered that the king was talking about Mordechai, the man that had refused to bow to him, and not himself. That evening, at the second banquet, Esther informed the king of Haman’s plot to wipe out the Jewish people and she asked him to spare her people for she was a Jew. The king became enraged when he discovered what Haman’s plans were and he immediately hung Haman. Because of the integrity of Mordechai, the courage of Esther and the favor of God, the Jewish people were spared. From that day forward, the people of Israel, celebrate the courage of Esther, and the favor of God that the Jewish people found in the foreign land of Persia with a festival called Purim.
This past week, millions of Jews all over the world celebrated Purim, a celebration of God saving Israel from extinction. A part of the traditional Purim celebration is to read the story of Esther. The story of Esther is full of lessons to be learned, such as finding courage to do the impossible, and the importance of integrity. Yet, there is an important aspect of this story that is not even mentioned in the entire book. In the book of Esther, God is not mentioned at all, but his hand of favor and involvement can be seen throughout the entire story. Esther teaches us to recognize the work of God in our lives even if we don’t necessarily see or hear Him personally.
In the story of Esther we find that, though God is never mentioned directly, He is in every aspect of His people’s lives. God gave Esther favor with the King, God reminded the king of Mordechai saving his life, and God even blessed his people with the favor of the Persian nation after they were saved from Haman’s plot. God was in every part of the Esther story and He is in every part of our story as well. Luke 12:6-7 states:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
God knows everything about each and every one of us, down to the very hairs on our head. He also cares about every aspect of our lives and of who we are. Matthew 6:26 states:
“Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?”
God takes care of all of his creation, right down to the tiny sparrows. And if he cares about the protection and the provision of the sparrow, we, as His people, can find peace, knowing that he cares about even the smallest fraction of our lives. We must never forget that it is because God cares about His people that he sent his son to save us.
God loves us more than we can ever imagine and he cares about us, individually, more than we can ever fathom. The story of Esther teaches us to take away the lenses of hardship and to see the hand of God, and his love for us, even when we do not think it is there. Unfortunately, hardship is a part of life. Everyone, no matter who they are, will face some form of struggle or complication at some point in their life. Sometimes, this may be as severe as facing an untimely death and other times it may be something like a loss of a dream job. But it is important to remember, even when we are struggling in life that God cares about us and that even though we may not see it, His hand is at work in our lives. I challenge you, that when you are facing life’s struggles, instead of looking at your situation through the dark and clouded lenses of hardship, you would do as Esther did and face your struggle with faith, knowing that though it might not be clear right now, God cares about every aspect of your life and his hand is at work even now.
Esther taught me to trust God even when life is hard and confusing. I hope her story does the same for you. As Christians, we must remember that God loves us more than we know. Sometimes we simply have to trust that He knows what He is doing even when we don’t understand. So let’s do as our Jewish brothers and sisters did this past week, and, instead of facing the unknown with doubt and fear, we celebrate God’s hand of favor even in our greatest struggles.