Beginning today, I want to ask you, have you ever been in a difficult situation where you had to face someone who had your future in his or her hands?
It's not every day that this type of situation is present itself in our lives, but from time to time, we find ourselves in confrontation with:
If we are in the type of situation where our future is being help by a cord, it's not easy to know what to say or do, is it?
It's simple to know where to go when we know that we risk almost nothing or that the consequences will be very small if we mess up.
But saying the right thing, and acting the right way when we risked completely disrupting things, or loosing everything, is another matter.
I think that the difficulty in these circumstances is double.
I admire the person that can keep his or her cool in a tough situation that can make the right decisions.
I also admire those who do and say what's right even when those things are opposing everyone else.
If I admire these people, it is because their choices were extremely difficult and I don't know if I could do the same.
And then there is the story of Esther. Last week we saw how Mordecai asked Esther to intervene to save the Jews. She was in a true dilemma because no one had the right to approach the king with out an invitation, under pain of death. It was the same for the queen; she could not come to see her husband unless she was called.
Esther knew that the king had not spared the last queen who had been disobedient.
At the end of chapter 4, here is what she finally replied in verse 16 …
A fast was declared. But don't loose sight of why it was declared. For the Jews a fast was not to better learn self-control. It wasn't to be healthier. Fasting was a time for prayer. It was the moment to consecrate the time of preparation, a time for intercession.
We don’t find the details of this three-day period between chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 4, the decision to pray is taken because Esther is scared and feels inadequate. In chapter 5, lets read verse 1…
There is now an interlude of 3 days between chapters 4 and 5. A moment of importance, where Esther has to find the only source that can give her strength to do what she needs to do.
I insist on this point because it is from this text that we find our lesson today.
I insist because how easy it is to forget this source that can procure for us the strength and clear vision, to do the right things in the difficult moments.
Her confidence in God at this moment is vital. I like how Isaiah told us in his writing to not forget about this point. He encouraged us in his book, in chapter 40:31 …
Have you seen the four things that happen to a man when he relies on God?
So Esther prayed while she was in confusion, like the book of Isaiah said, God took her by the hand, grabbed her heart and took away her fear.
Three days in which little is said, but in which God did His work.
Today are you in a difficult situation with someone who can greatly affect your future? If yes, are you confused?
Maybe it's the time to pray and fast and to call a good friend to pray and fast for you.
Maybe it’s the moment to say that you don’t have to have your head down during a confrontation, without any clear idea or way to go, but a moment to be on your knees talking with God.
This is where I remember the words of the Psalmist in chapter 32:6-7… where God responds in verse 38.
God always finishes by giving us His way. Sometimes the way that He wants us to take isn’t necessarily the one we wanted to take. But if we pray and read His word, sooner or later He directs us.
It is sufficient to be attentive to His presence and His direction. Like Esther it’s necessary that I wait, and stay collected, fasting to reflect and listen to my soul.
Look in the story, the result of the time of prayer for Esther. In chapter 5:2-3, we read …
Thanks to her time with God, Esther comes before the king calm, wise, and confident. She doesn't know what will happen, but she puts it in the Lord hands. And like it says in Proverbs 21:1, God inclined the heart of the king.
I like this passage. The king wasn't just content to say, “What do you want Esther?” He went much further to say, “What can I do for you? You can ask anything, and I will try giving it to you!”
Look at the serenity of Esther. At this point in the story, she could have put everything in front of the king. If she didn't have a solid confidence in God, she could have believed that it was the only occasion and therefore jumped in head long.
But she was serene.
It reminds me that during the time that we are not waking in harmony with God, it is the opposite that we find. We jump in too quickly; we speak to quickly, and say things that we later regret.
But, if by prayer, we are well prepared, He takes control of our spirit. One becomes like a glove.
Think of a glove, what is it like? It’s empty and waits for a hand to be placed inside to do what needs to be done. Prayer correctly puts our confidence in God, it empties and allows the hand of God to come and direct us.
There is nothing that compares to the happiness that comes when this happens in our lives. It's wonderful!
Lets return to the text, looking what Esther says to the King in chapter 5:4 …
Look at this, before she came before the king, Esther prepared a feast. Probably because during her prayers, God had put into her spirit a plan, a banquet, the desire to do this in a certain way, an invitation for King Ahasuerus and his Prime Minister Haman.
This reminds me that to trust God doesn’t mean only sitting in a corner and doing nothing, looking at your belly button. Trusting God is not only singing, “Sweet hour of prayer”. It’s not an obligation to climb a latter or to spend a month on a pilgrimage far from the real world. The solitude and the silence are sometimes beneficial, but for most of the time it's necessary for us, to continue to work.
Chapter 5:5 now says here …
I think that at this point, Esther probably wanted to say that God is extraordinary. She was alive because He had protected her and the king had accepted her invitation. All her plans worked because she had taken the time to put herself in God's care.
For her, faith was more than just a discussion, to be able to do well. You know what I’m talking about?
There are lots of Christians who have the name of God on their lips, but who don’t truly live for Him with their hearts. I read this week something that illustrates this point.
Did you know that President Theodore Roosevelt hated receptions? He found that the people were fake, that all had the same smile, the same speeches, the same flatness; they shook your hand without really listening to your responses, all with the same thoughtless formality. Convinced of his impression, he started greeted all of his guests by exclaiming, “I killed my grandmother this morning!” Do you know what they said? “Wonderful, admirable, keep it up!” All except one diplomat who leaned in and responded, “I’m sure she’ll hear about this.”
There are lots of people who believe and who mention the name of God from time to time, but their belief is superficial, it doesn’t inspire their hearts to prayer, to find the Lord’s direction. What about our faith?
Look at the rest of the story. Esther 5:6-8 …. See how the king knew that someone wasn’t right with Esther? She had never before dared to come into his presence, without having a good reason. So, he asked what she wanted.
Esther again responded in an indirect manner. She again did not take the opportunity to jump on the subject. God needed another day for His plan to work. Esther was like a glove, waiting one more day.
In verses 9-14, we read …(Haman had 10 legitimate sons and 208 illegitimate. His words were a collection of boasting. His guests must have been bored hearing him boast like this. His friends already knew about these things. )
Now we see that Mordecai found himself once more in Haman's way, at the entrance to the palace. That sealed the events for the coming day.
I want to stop looking at the story here and I would like for the rest of our time to see the lessons we draw from the text we covered.
I see three principles that we can follow when we are in a difficult situation with those people who hold our future in their hands.
Do this before entering the situation.
Don't forget that the time we take to give our selves to God is necessary, not only for God to prepare the way externally, but for Him to prepare a way internally, in our spirits and hearts.
During the time of prayer, He works on our courage, our patience and of course on the external circumstances.
If we rush in too quickly we risk not being in line with his plans and waiting.
So, if we have the need for wisdom, to know the best direction to take, prayer. Don't rush.
I am reminded of Proverbs 16:7 ... We can have confidence in the work of God. He has the ability to convert a dead end into a royal highway for our good.
Engrave in your memories how God gave Esther the patience necessary to keep to the plan until all was ready.
From a human point of view, she had Haman at her mercy, right from the get go. But the right time wasn't there yet, because God had not totally worked all things out for complete victory in this situation. Esther needed to wait a little longer. And he helped her do so.
In conclusion, what can I say? Maybe the best thing is to I read a little poem that I found. It was written in the form of a prayer. Here is what it says:
"Father, thank you for giving us the courage to continue to wait, and at the same time, the determination to hold on, when we have personal losses, or lack of understanding. Thank you for the Esthers of today, for all those who have courage and who show us how to live as Christians.
Father, be with all those who are in critical situations, those who know a Haman in their lives, who are oppressed and abused. The same way that you helped Esther to have wisdom, calmness, and confidence, encourage those who wait for you, and take the situation in your hands. In the mist of their chaos, give them hope.
Since you gave Esther her hour of glory in the mist of the worst difficulties, do the same us, in whose lives all is going wrong. Manifest yourself, change the hearts of stone to flesh. Give us the calming assurances and tranquility that all things are in your hands, and under your control. Help us to wait patiently for your intervention.
In the precious name of Christ, Amen"