The end of Week 10, and this week we have all been challenged on how we deal with big life changing situations. Esther was certainly facing one, and although she had made the decision to approach the King, she wasn’t rushing in to it.
“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.” Esther 4:16
Putting God First
The thing that has kept coming back to me this week, is that Esther looks for God’s help in this situation. She has accepted Mordecai’s persuasive argument and is going to approach the King as he suggests, but she’s not rushing into it just because he has said so. Part of his argument was around God using her to save the Jews, and so she wants to make sure that that is what God wants too.
Esther takes a breather and seeks God on this. She decides to fast for three days. Now, we could very well say that this gives her time and space to get her head round what she has to do, maybe she is stalling and hoping that something else will save them in that time, but she is taking time out to put God first in it. She is actively denying herself food, her own pleasure and comfort, to make sure this is the right decision. And its not just a little fast – she is giving up food and water, for the whole three days. Sometimes people will fast just one meal, or just during the day and then eat at night. But this is a full on proper fast.
Whilst looking at this verse, we were challenged as a group to fast ourselves and show God that he is first in our lives – I am always amazed at what God reveals and does during times of fasting, It is sooo hard to do it (and there are many excuses as mums as to why not to – breastfeeding, being pregnant, needing energy to keep up with the kids!) but it is worth it to show God that we put him first. It definitely paid off for Esther.
Putting others Second
When we discussed this verse in the Facebook Live discussion last Monday, someone mentioned that this action of fasting, and the way that Esther gets her attendants to fast with her, would have been an amazing ministry and teaching opportunity for her. She had kept her nationality and relationship with God a secret up until now, but here should would have had to share with her attendants as to why she was doing such a strange thing, and what she hoped God would do through it. She could easily have just done this by herself, or said she was feeling sick and not wanting to eat, but she doesn’t. She gets those closest to her involved and shares the experience with them. No doubt, when God does deliver the Jews from death, the attendants will then see Gods glory and come to know and understand Him better.
Esther isn’t selfish in the way she approaches this, but looks to put others second after God and include them in the miracle too. She does this by asking the Jews in Susa to fast with her – she is allowing them to be part of this. When God does deliver them they will be able to say that they had fasted alongside Esther and been part of taking her prayers up to God. What an awesome thing to share!
I know when I have been asked to pray for someone who is ill, if they do receive healing it is an amazing moment of praise and thanksgiving to God, but also of being a part of something bigger than myself and a little part of God’s plan to heal them.
Not Facing Her Fears alone
I have great respect for Esther in this verse – she really is showing wisdom beyond her teenage years and is a great example to us in how to approach challenges in our lives. She knew that she couldn’t do this in her own strength, so not only does she go to God but she also gathers others to face her fears with her. She asks for prayer and fasting from others to help carry her through.
This has really challenged me as a leader of a bible study group at my church. How often do we share prayer requests and half pray for things? How often do we offer to fast with others for the issues they are facing in their lives? How often do we ask others to fast with us when we are facing big things? Often me and my husband will fast together if we have a big decision to make, but we’ve never asked others to do it with us. I wonder how that would make me feel to know that others where sacrificing their comfort just to stand with me in prayer? I am going to consider saying to those I know well that I will fast with them now, and see what a difference that makes to them.
putting herself last
The last past of this verse is quite a sad bit. At first I thought it was a flippant teenage girl type comment, done with the flick of her hair and with a sarcastic tone in her voice! As if that defiant attitude would change her having to see the King. But after a bit more thought and meditation (and some helpful comments in the Facebook Community) I think there is more to it than that. She is counting the cost and deciding that God is worth it. She is accepting her fate, whatever that may be, and laying her life in God’s hands. Are we ready to do that in our own lives? To accept wherever God may take us and whatever costs may be involved in it?
Esther rises up to be a great role model
The first half of this series, I felt sorry for Esther and her family circumstances, I stepped into her shoes as she made her way through the harem and tried to set herself apart and show how she was different. The last few weeks we’ve seen how fear has crept in and tried to take that from her, but this week she has stepped up again and shown wisdom and strength beyond her years. She has proven to be a great role model, in showing us how to approach difficult things in life – to breath, take time, and give it to God. To fight that fear, with the help of others around her, and to really trust in God. I doubt that if she hadn’t had such a rough start to her life she would have had the strength to do that. God had clearly made her resilient through those times and reliant on him.
So next week is crunch time – we see Esther take that step of faith. I am really looking forward to stepping in to her shoes in this verse:
“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.” Esther 5:1-2
I do hope you’ll join me in discussing it this week in our Facebook Community and meditating on it yourself at home.