In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them…The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them…And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. —Esther 8:17, 9:2-3
What will often satisfy us, in our human condition, is a happy ending. We want a pleasurable resolution to a tragic situation.
Here, in our passage today, we have it. Esther was faithful to her people and her God and in return, she was blessed to be the instrument of salvation to people about to be exterminated.
The Lord worked through Esther and Mordecai, to reveal He was indeed present with His people. He would keep them from harm and satisfy their desire to be recognized by those around them.
Instead of being an object of scorn and ridicule, they became celebrated for their faith. As a result, there was revival and the community of believers in Yahweh grew!
In stark contrast to this verse, I just finished reading the Book of Job. It is the flip-side to this happy ending.
Job is restored in the end, but before that, he is the object of all the worst afflictions we can think of. Often viewed as the definitive work on suffering, Job argues with God, his friends and wallows in a pit of despair.
Yet, there is one thread these stories have in common – and not just their proximity in Scripture. It is the lesson of faith.
We have to have it and when we do, we will be redeemed. We can’t have faith in outcomes or the blessings. Our faith always and only depends on Jesus Himself. Do we trust He will follow through on His commitment to us, either in this life or the next?
In times of prosperity, such as the Jews were experiencing at this point in our passage, we don’t tend to do spiritual inventories. We tend to go with the flow.
Yet those dark times, like what Job faced, are what typically prompt us to ask where God is – or more appropriately – where we are with God.
Both scenarios give us a chance to be honest with the Lord. In my opinion, that was why the Lord chooses Job and Esther. Both were brutally honest in their need for His salvation. For the follower of Christ, He makes it plain: He wants this kind of need, a revision of our soul, every day.
Sometimes God doesn’t want you to learn anything other than He wants to be close to you. It is true though; that the work He does in our lives is to show a fallen world what is possible. Phillip Yancey, in his book The Bible Jesus Read, makes this statement:
We will never know, in this life, the full significance of our actions here for, as Job demonstrates, much takes place invisible to us. Jesus’ cross offers a pattern for that too: what seemed very ordinary, once more dreary feat of colonial ‘justice’ in a Roman outpost, made possible the salvation of the entire world.
Whether you are rejoicing or are in despair, what brings people to Jesus is honesty: with the Lord, yourself and with them. The more authentic you are on your journey to eternity, the more real Jesus becomes to those around you. They will eventually catch the idea that there is more to this life than just what happens – there is the real possibility of finding love, hope, peace and restoration.
How can you be more honest with God about your circumstances?
Heavenly Father, I thank You for the opportunity to experience this life with You. I have hit highs and known depressing depths, but all along, You have been there. I don’t love You because of Your blessings, but for Who You are. Help that love and belief translate into an experience for others to crave Your mercy – no matter what I’m facing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.