I always find it interesting when people use a Bible phrase without realizing that what they said was originally a part of Scripture before it became an English language idiom, like: “Nothing new under the sun … the four corners of the earth … out of the mouth of babes … the root of the matter.”
And today’s passage contains another of these: “For such a time as this.” It really is the key verse of the whole book of Esther.
And even though the book never mentions God, there is such a strong emphasis on the idea of divine providence. And with the Jewish people in peril of extinction — surely to include Esther herself – Mordecai suggests that she may have providentially gained her position as the queen for just this occasion.
4:9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Providence sometimes is very dramatic, like the time when you are perfectly at the right place at the right time. Such events are the occasional, even rare, incredible moments of life … perhaps even when something appears to be going terribly wrong; but it all turns around.
I suggested on Sunday that perhaps many of you have a providential story about how you met your spouse. I then went on to tell how I first met Diana in college (beyond a casual introduction earlier)… relating how I had a date with another girl. A guy friend of mine was in a very bad place emotionally, and so I brought him along to get him out of the dorm and around people. I told my date to go back up the elevator in the girl’s dorm and bring back the first girl she ran into. It was Diana. Late that night, back in the guy’s dorm, I told my friend (who had a fun evening with our foursome) that I really, really liked that Diana girl and that I was going to marry her. He told me I was crazy to think that. Hah! I knew it that night, though it took A LONG TIME to get Diana to think the same way! But the point here is that it was a providential moment when that elevator door opened.
But more often we see providence in the multitude of small things that come together over a long period of time. Circumstances and events that did not look like much at the time (and in fact appeared to be misfortunes) ultimate eventuate as threads of life woven by God into a garment of beauty over time. Those threads did not look like much at the time, analyzing just a few of them up close even gave an appearance of randomness and clashing colors. But in the end, when it is complete and the final product is visible, it is a thing of beauty.
So often, in the midst of life, things can look very bleak. But looking back gives us a great view from Mt. Perspective, teaching us once again that God was good. And that remembrance gives us confidence going forward.
I have often shared pieces of my own story, of being an illegitimate child that had to be adopted. Everything about it was odd and out of sync. I grew up with my grandparents as an only child (since their three daughters — one of them my actual mother — were all married and gone by the time I could remember much). So that was bad; but no, it was good — because I had a very stable home life and encouragement in all the things that have marked my life.
But when I was age 10, our church splintered into two factions. So that was bad; but no, it was good — because it put me into a church with a great youth program and with the pastor’s sons as my best friends and influences.
So I went to college to study music for a music career, but was more interested in Bible and theology instead. So that was bad; but no, it was good — because music was my foot in the door for a couple of internships and part-time positions.
When in Dallas and an impoverished seminarian, I applied for a significant church music position. The other candidate was (no joking) a total jerk who fooled the church into hiring him. So that was bad; but no, it was good — because two months later I stumbled into a position at twice the pay in twice the church in every way. It was one of the great experiences of my life during those years to serve at Grace Bible Church of Dallas as Minister of Music.
And so on, and so on … the garment of my life has now been woven for a while, and I can look back and see God’s providential hand in every twist of the threads.
So what is the worst or most confusing thing going on in your life right now? Don’t despair. God may have that there to use in some way that you cannot imagine — a way that will result in great good, your pleasure, and God’s glory.