For Such a Time as This
In the middle of a global pandemic, many are asking themselves, “Where is God?”
In just weeks the metaphorical rug of comfort and security has been pulled from beneath us leaving millions scrambling to get a grip on, what is now and what will be, reality. In America, we watched from afar as this virus swept the globe, dreading its arrival to our doorstep. An unwelcome guest, COVID-19 stormed its way through our nation leaving no state untouched.
We find ourselves calibrating the sudden change as best we can, taking refuge in our homes, and desperately waiting for this storm to pass.
Many words have been used to describe our present, one of which is, “strange.” Indeed, we are living in strange times. Each day we are bombarded with an overload of information that can stimulate fear and anxiety. It can be tempting to focus on the storm when your eyes are not fixed on Jesus. In times of uncertainty, where does your hope come from?
We can learn a great deal about faith in the face of uncertainty through the biblical story of Esther. Esther was a young Jewish girl raised by her beloved cousin, Mordecai. In the story, Esther is summoned along with all the young women in the region of Susa to present themselves to King Ahasuerus who was in search of a new queen. Before presenting herself to the king, Mordecai instructs Esther to conceal her Jewish heritage.
After winning the favor of the king, Esther is made queen. All is well until a series of unfortunate events puts not only her cousin Mordecai’s life in jeopardy, but all of Esther’s people.
“Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” (3:13)
The Jewish people were devastated. They mourned, they fasted, they wept…everything they knew and everyone they loved were doomed (4:3).
When the news gets to Esther, she is deeply distressed. Mordecai insists that Esther plead with the King on behalf of her people, but Esther reminds him that to go before the King without first being summoned is a death sentence. Mordecai then challenges Esther with these words…
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:14)
Esther is left with a choice; does she remain silent, or go before the king? She then instructs the messenger to tell Mordecai to gather all the Jews in Susa and hold a three day fast on her behalf. After that, she will go before the king even though it is against the law. In her words, “If I perish, I perish” (4:16).
As the story unfolds in the book of Esther, there is no direct mention of God, and yet we see threads of His faithfulness woven into its pages through each turn of events as He preserves and protects Esther and her people. The story ends with resounding victory for the Jewish people as Esther persuades King Ahasuerus to spare her people.
“The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.” (8:16–17)
While there is no direct mention of God in the chapters of Esther, her faith in the Lord is evident. She had many reasons to doubt He was working. She had many reasons to be afraid and discouraged — to give in to hopelessness when those around her were overcome with grief.
But when the time came for Esther to demonstrate tremendous courage, she did not back out. After fasting for three days and three nights, she made her way to the palace entrance, unsure what the outcome would be. She was probably fatigued and scared, maybe even trembling, when she entered the king’s inner court. This could have meant, not only her death, but the death of everyone she loved dearly. The king could have been furious and sent her away, but instead she won favor in his eyes — and as he holds out his golden scepter to welcome her in, so unfolds the saving grace of the Jewish people.
In times like these when things may seem dark and uncertain, God is searching for the faithful to rise to the occasion
In times like these when things may seem dark and uncertain, God is searching for the faithful to rise to the occasion. Like Esther, we are given the opportunity to demonstrate hopefulness in a hopeless world — courage in the face of adversity.
There will be moments where we will want to give into doubt that God is working; but like Esther, we must be courageous, believing that the Lord gives strong support to those who are committed to Him (2 Chron. 16:9). There will be moments where we will want to give into fear, to look to-and-fro at the raging storm around us; but like Peter, we must return our gaze on Jesus who will not let us drown (Matt. 14:31). There will be times where we will want to add to the negative noise around us; but like David, we must use our voices to lift prayers and praises to God, believing He is our shield where our heart can take refuge (Psalm 28:7).
When our world is shaken, we can find security in the words of Jesus, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Brother or sister be encouraged. It is no mistake that you are here. The world is watching and in need of this hopeful message — will you rise to the occasion? Who knows, perhaps you were born for such a time as this?