Written by Jennifer Hoyt
Who knows whether you’ve come to the kingdom for such a time as this? - Esther 4:14
Sometimes embracing difficulty and challenges is a tough pill to swallow. We struggle with the obstacles before us and with our heart before God. We are in a rush for God to remove those obstacles, and we get upset when that doesn’t instantly happen. Today, I want to encourage you that as Christians; we don't have insulation from trouble, but we definitely have recourse. If you’re going through a struggle, I’d like to challenge you to look beyond the surface and see with a fresh perspective. Discover not only God’s heart in its midst but also the steps you can to take to accomplish His will and see victory.
In the biblical tale of Esther, we encounter a remarkable story of courage and divine intervention. Esther, a humble Jewish girl, finds herself thrust into the role of queen of Persia after the deposed Queen Vashti’s fall from favor. When a plot to annihilate her people arises, Esther’s cousin Mordecai urges her to intercede with the king, despite the grave risks involved. Esther bravely approaches the king unsummoned, and through a series of strategic moves, she unveils the villainous schemes of Haman and secures the safety of her people. In a twist of fate, Haman meets his own demise on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai, while Esther and Mordecai rise to positions of power, becoming protectors of their people.
The above-written is a nice recap for the overall story of Esther, but if we dive a little deeper into the nuance, we learn Esther has quite a challenge in front of her. She has to get the king to spare her cousin and the entire Jewish people. Not a simple task, especially if we consider the risks. She not only became queen after the former queen fell from grace, something one can imagine she’d like to avoid, but to make matters worse, in the time she lived in, no one could approach the king, on penalty of death, unless they were summoned. Esther had not been summoned. Mordecai warns Esther, “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.”
Esther agrees to take on this task, but first she fasts, prays and asks Mordecai to have the people join her. Then she enters the king’s presence, un-summoned. Not only does the king spare her, but he promises to grant her request. She requests to have him come to her chambers for dinner, which he obliges. She asks him to dinner a second time, all while being promised whatever she will ask for. During the second dinner, Esther reveals all. She is a Jew. Haman is plotting to kill her cousin and her people. Not only does the king take her part, but he even hangs Haman on the gallows that Haman built for Mordecai, and then promotes Mordecai to become the prime minister of the king.
I want us to take a few keys from Esther. First key, Esther makes a choice to be obedient. She could have gotten caught up in the trouble and focused on the risk, but she makes a choice to obey and then turns her attention to God. Second key, Esther goes to God. We must decide to obey and then go to God. Third key, God gives Esther a strategy. God will give us a strategy, but, like Esther, it will most likely be out of our comfort zone. <==== friend, read that again! We are going to be pushed outside of our comfort zone! Fourth key, Esther is courageous and despite being outside of her comfort zone, she trusts! If there is anything we can take from Esther, it’s a demonstration of how trusting God, results in victory!
Esther's story reminds us that sometimes extraordinary circumstances place us in a position to stand up for what is right and make a difference in the world around us. God has called us to a purpose amidst our struggles. Struggles suck. No argument there, but we can find comfort in the fact that God accompanies us in walking through them. He offers us His spirit to comfort and direct us, so that we might then become an encouragement to others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
By Joyce Pelletier
Psalms 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
James 1:3 Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance
I have so many memories of “waiting” for something to take place or an answer to prayer. Most of them reveal my impatience, especially waiting for that one special person to receive Jesus as their Lord. It seems to take forever. I've watched many people hold back, and it can just be so hard to wait. When it does happen, well, that's a time of celebration. The Father of the prodigal son is a prime ezxample of this. When the son came to his senses, the father wasn't waiting with arms on his hips and fingers pointing. He bid his servants to bring on the feast! That was something to celebrate.
Waiting is not my gift. But, I will say that when I trust in God the waiting game is so much easier. When a problem comes up, I want it fixed, here and now.
When Maurice had his heart surgery, I so dreaded that day. Heart surgery is serious stuff. I dreaded waiting in the family waiting area for the surgery to be done. I had books with me, my kindle to keep busy with games, best of all I was not alone. Our daughter was with me. That made the difference because I knew God had allowed that to be.
Here it is eight years later, and Maurice is strong, healthy, still splitting firewood, I would have confidence in his health. Well, we never should take anything for granted. We never know when something will go awry. He now faced hernia surgery. This time my confidence was based on Jesus. I knew we'd get through this, no matter what the outcome. Then...
A week later, I was having my second Cataract taken care of. This was a different kind of waiting. I’ve been on this surgery road far too many times. It’s different this time, because I know I’m not alone in my waiting. When things like this happen, we just need to watch and pray. Don’t look at the clock because that will deter you towards anxiety. For it says in…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you on Christ Jesus.”
One lesson I’ve walked away with after each surgery is that the doctors and nurses are our best friends. They see to every need. They make light of what’s about to happen. BUT, they are well trained! They were ready for any emergency. I took the time to listen as they worked to remove my cataract. The surgeon guides the others and keep their pace that caused me to relax and listen. Though I could not see what they were actually doing, I knew I was in good hands, because Jesus was there. I was completely relaxed. That had to be God!
This time I was not anxious! God gave me his servants to care for my need and fix my problem. He trained them all. Some know Him, some do not. They joke around, yet at the same time they are quite serious. That’s when I remember that the Joy of the Lord is my strength. I was awake the whole time, heard everything and in a short amount of time it was over and into recovery I go once again.
Years ago, I knew one day, I may have to face this surgery, and in my ignorance of not knowing what to expect, I had my anxieties. I am somewhat claustrophobic, and what scared me most was being in a small machine to have them work on my eyes. Well I had nothing to fear. Now, after having actually going through it, it was my walk in the park with the God who made me. I’d want it no other way.
Thank you Jesus for being present in the operating room, at church, in my heart, my home, my car, or even in the grocery store. You are there waiting out every minute with all of us. The times of celebration come to us when all is said and done. Keep us ever mindful of keeping our trust in tact, waiting for your solution to any situation. Help us to continue to walk in complete trust, hope and ready for the celebration in Joy!
By Donna Churchill
A long time ago a dear friend gave me a candle holder that said “Every season has its own special blessings.” That is so true.
A few months ago, when we were technically still in the season of Autumn, I came home from running errands one day and stopped at the bottom of my driveway to pick up the mail. As I started to get out of the car, I saw a sight that caused me to sit right back down and reach for my phone. I had to get a picture of this!
At the bottom of our driveway sits a Burning Bush and at that time of the year, it was bright red, but some of the leaves had already fallen to the ground. What caused me to be in awe of this sight was that we had our first snowfall of the season that day and the very white snow was clinging to the tops of the empty branches of the Burning Bush. The sun was also beginning its descent at that time, shining brilliantly on the bush and the sight in front of me was breathtaking! Of course no picture can do justice to God’s handiwork, but I tried.
Later, when I was looking at the pictures, I saw something I hadn’t seen initially. I saw two seasons colliding – dead leaves on the ground, the bright red of the leaves still on the bush and the snow clinging to the bare branches. It appeared that as one season was trying to make a graceful exit, the next season came barging in! One season was trying to scare the other off. I saw a season that maybe wasn’t ready to leave and another season anxious to make its presence known.
I began to see a spiritual application here - as seasons collide in our lives, God works in our hearts to prepare us to let go of one and embrace the other. But, often we are not ready to do that graciously. There are seasons in our lives that we want to hang on to, there are also seasons we desperately try to run from. And then, there are seasons that seem to barge in and we feel totally unprepared for them.
That vacation at the beach...yup, want to stay there; that time of sickness…yup, God, could you just heal me now? That very unpleasant task that needs to be gotten through...yup, can’t wait until that’s over. That wilderness season we are walking through where we can’t seem to hear God’s voice…yup, it’s hard to endure that season with patience.
And yet, in hindsight, I think we could almost say of all of those seasons, there were blessings in each one of them and looking back we can see God’s hand in all of them.
As I write this, I’m reminded of car trips with two small girls in the back seat, who kept asking their Dad, “Are we there yet?” Last year, I was called to jury duty and had to serve on a case that was expected to last four days and I just kept thinking, “I can’t wait until this week is over!” But in both of those memories, I see the hand of God and know these seasons were purposed and blessed.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.”
It is so comforting to know that truth as I’ve experienced many of these times and seasons over the course of my life, as, I’m sure, have you. In His sovereignty, it is God who determines our seasons. It is God who determines what time it is!
“My times are in your hand;” Psalm 31:15a
Psalm 1:1-3 gives still more insight.
“ Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”
I heard a preacher say one time that the word season here refers to a specific point in time when a series of events occur ordained by God. Our whole lives are like that, aren’t they? Our seasons and times are always sovereignly ordained by God. When we try to rush out of one season and run into another, we may be fighting against the very hand of God and the season He has determined.
The seasons in nature, the seasons of life, the seasons of growth, all of these seasons hold purpose. In His perfect planning and purpose, He ordains one season and then prepares us for the transition into the next season He has planned. And no matter the season, there is blessing.
As I walk out of one season and into another, my heart wants to be able to say with Paul in the letter to the Philippians, “…for I have learned in whatever situation [season] I am to be content.”
Every season does come with its own special blessings. May we find contentment and see purpose and blessing in whatever season God has placed us in at the moment.
Yesterday as I wrote a post about some of the daily challenges I face, I thought to
myself, “well that sounds exhausting, no wonder you’re napping so long on the
weekends. How are you even doing everything that you’re doing?” I penned this
poem in response:
I keep my eyes upon my Savior to tread these stormy waves
To turn away might drown me, but I know that Jesus saves
And He who calmed the waters and the winds so long ago
Will keep me safe upon these waves to walk
And I’ll follow
I could not navigate these channels
without the Light to guide me
To illuminate my path ahead,
to lead me on, or hide me
Rock of ages, cleft for me
You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies
Though my body has been ravaged
by an unseen fleet of savage
microscopic hosted frenemies
I tire easily and I return myself to He
Who can restore my soul
And place my feet upon the Rock
The confession, On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
So I clasp more firmly to His hand
Even as this journey leads me on through valleys treacherous
Even when this world would beckon me towards being lecherous
Ever forward march I onward
Until I, weary from the battle
Put my head down
You fight for me
Maybe you’re in a similar place. You’re navigating at the speed of life holding
onto Jesus like Lois Lane holds Superman when they go up, up and away. “Please
don’t let me fall, please don’t let me fall.” I wonder sometimes if I’m more on the
side of “Oh ye of little faith,” or “I have not seen such great faith in all of
Jerusalem.” Whichever of those you might more relate to, it’s nice to know that
Jesus can still relate to you. Not that Jesus ever had little faith, but that Jesus spoke
and had relationships with those who had great faith and with those who needed
help with their unbelief.
One of the many Names of Jesus is Wonderful Counselor. If you’ve ever needed
counseling, you might have learned there’s a difference between a terrible
counselor and a really good one. Thank God that He offers us free counseling and
keeps all kinds of hours. If you can only meet with him at 8AM, He’s there. If
you need him at 3AM, he’s there. If you need to keep him on call all throughout
the day, you CAN. You maybe even should, as He instructs us to pray without
Life can be overwhelming. Everywhere you look can be overwhelm. Phil. 4:13
says I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me. I wonder if it would
be better interpreted as, I can do everything I’m supposed to do through Christ who
strengthens me. After all, I cannot do a lot of things. But all the things that I’ve
needed to go through, everything I had to endure, I have made it because of Jesus.
There have been moments where I literally felt it was not possible to go on. Yet
here I am.
Whether you know what I mean because you’ve been there, or your trials are ahead
of you, Jesus promised to be with us even to the very end of the age. Rest assured,
He keeps His promises. He is faithful to the end. “But one thing I do: Forgetting
what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to
win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil.
3:13b-14 Jesus may not deliver me from the trials I am facing, but He will deliver
me from my adversary. He will continue to be my trusted Navigation System until
I get to the other side of this life.
In times of trials, learn the habit of clinging to the One who knows not just the first
steps, but the final ones. In fact, if you learn to cling to Him before the great trials,
you’ll have great clinging muscles before you even start a trial. And you might get
to a time where you feel like you can’t hold on anymore. But just as Lois Lane
was held by Superman, even if she wasn’t holding on, Jesus is able to hold onto
you. Ask Him. “Lord please hold onto me, because I don’t know if I have the
strength to hold onto you.”
By Peggie Potter
This I recall to my heart, therefore I have hope
Because of the mercies of Adonai we will not be
consumed for His compassions never fail
they are new every morning !
Were we not rescued from the darkness of sin into
God's brilliant light when we gave our hearts to Jesus ?
Doesn't He offer forgiveness every time we fall into a sin ?
Great is Your faithfulness my God & Savior Jesus Christ !
When we stray , doesn't He leave the 99 to search for the
one ? John 10:28-29
When we are grieving or in despair is He not our comfort
and our shepherd leading us back into the light ? Psalm 30:5
And despite these dark end-of-the-age days is He not our Hope ?
Isaiah 43:19 & Revelation 21:5