Wednesday, July 21, 2010 – Esther, Chapter E – From Calamity to RejoicingThis is a book which is printed in several versions and today’s Noontime is the chapter that is a copy of the king’s letter in which protection for the Jews to worship without persecution is laid out. This guarantee is in direct opposition to the favor which the powerful and influential Haman was plotting to request; but we see that the tables have turned on Haman and rather than rejoice in the destruction of innocent people, he has reaped the whirlwind of God’s justice. He and all his family members have been executed.
As we read, we understand that King Ahasuerus the Great was not a fool, and that he understood human nature. He writes in verses 5 and 6: Often, too, the fair speech of friends entrusted with administration of affairs has induced many placed in authority to become accomplices in the shedding of innocent blood, and has involved them in irreparable calamities by deceiving with malicious slander the sincere good will of others. Each of us knows of a time in which innocent blood has been shed when leaders have trusted those close to them . . . and ought not. When the betrayal is discovered, atonement must be made, and a letter may even be written like the one we read today. It is an admittance that leadership has failed accompanied by a decree that attempts to set things right because . . . Thus swiftly has God, who governs all, brought just punishment upon [Haman] . . . For God, the ruler of all, has turned that day for them from one of destruction of the chosen race into joy. (Verses 18 and 21)
We frequently feel the world closing in around us and there are times when it seems that all of our motions are wasted and worthless. In the time of darkness, it takes great effort to perform tasks that on another day bring us pleasure, rising from bed to greet the new day, calling a friend we have not seen in a while, sitting in the quiet with a good book or a beautiful sunset. When there is no light, we wonder if God is listening or caring about what happens to us . . . and this is what has happened with Esther. She has feared not only for her own life but for the lives of many innocent Jews living in exile; yet all of this is turned upside down when she puts aside this fear to do as God asks.
When shadows overtake us, we might want to read this story from beginning to end to take the measure of this young woman who changes the fate of a nation, for perhaps in that reading we will find the faintest chimera of hope to cling to, the tiniest drop of faith to drink in . . . and an ocean of love from the One who has created us and who cares for us tenderly each day.
When the hangman approaches and gloom threatens, let us remember the story of Esther and her God who has turned that day for them from one of destruction of the chosen race into joy. For the hope of Esther can be our hope because the God of Esther is our God . . . a God who transforms calamities into rejoicing.
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