“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
~ Esther 4:16b (NIV)
Today we have the second in the series from a house church pastor’s sermon in China:
How is suffering overcome? Or if you like, what is the solution to persecution? A church father answered this way; “Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if God were going to do his work through you.” So when resisting persecution, we do everything humanly possible to lessen it. But then we also beseech God to put a stop to it. In the two comes deliverance.
You can see both sides involved here. On the human level, we see two characteristics coming to the fore especially—courage and cunning. Esther is the one who displays courage, by taking her life in her hands to enter the king’s presence without an appointment. She says, “If I perish, I perish.” What a brave woman! She’s also the one who displays cunning, hatching a plan to entrap Haman. She throws a banquet, reveals her racial identity, and then exposes Haman as the man who wants to kill her.
Would it have worked? Who knows? Perhaps not. Haman did have great clout with the king as a trusted advisor, and Esther was merely a queen, and queens—as made clear here—are easily replaceable.
But it did work out, thanks to God. And this is the other side. We pray and pray that God will intervene. There is so much that is beyond our control. Our planning, our cunning, our bravery, is never enough. We need God’s help. So the Jews have a time of weeping and repentance (Esther 4:1-3), and then God intervenes in an astonishing way.
An old pastor used to say to me, “I find that coincidences stop happening when I stop praying.” The resolution of the book of Esther hinges on a massive coincidence, namely, that at the precise moment Haman expects to kill Mordecai, the king decides to honor Mordecai. Both men reach each situation independently. Take the king, for instance.
· The king just happens to have a sleepless night before Haman will pitch his plan.
· He just happens to read the annals to get to sleep, and just happens to find the part that tells of a good deed of Mordecai.
· He just happens to decide to honor Mordecai the following morning at the very moment Haman comes into the room.
· He just happens to select the first person who walks into his room at that time to carry out his plan.
· That person is Haman, who just happens to be ready to ask for the head of Mordecai.
And through a misunderstanding, the king decides to put Haman to death, as he thinks Haman is molesting Esther when in fact he’s only pleading. The point is, all this is outside human control. It’s God’s doing. But He worked within Esther’s plan. And so the plan to persecute the Jews is foiled.
RESPONSE: Today I acknowledge that there are no coincidences, just God-incidences!
PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to be faithful and see evidences of Your control over my circumstances.