Have you ever noticed how people rarely say what they mean?
I mean, sure, most of us have good intentions. But, how often do we sugar coat the truth in our day to day exchanges? You know, to keep the peace? I would guess it happens a lot.
There are a lot of reasons. Personally, I think it is partly due to our need to be polite (sometimes the best approach), and partly due to our fear of uncomfortable conversations. At times, this kind of restraint and inhibition is needed. When trying to function in a family or a community, it is certainly helpful to develop the skill of knowing when to speak and when to stay silent. We don’t need a newsflash every time something negative happens. Some commentary is unnecessary, and other times it is just plain hurtful.
Not every thought is worth voicing just because it is true.
On the other hand, I believe that our conscience will convict us when it is time to speak up.
Even so, I have observed that people tend to ignore this nudge. Ongoing issues are often swept under the rug for the sake of keeping the peace. There are times when we wrongly allow harmful situations to persist in order to appease others, and avoid damaging our image. Unfortunately, there are times when we would rather stay in denial than to face uncomfortable facts.
As a result, he task of confronting someone or asking for help can feel daunting or even impossible. And yet, these conversations can sometimes mean the difference between health and dysfunction; between success and failure.
In the short term, people pleasing may be comfortable, but in the long run, I believe that there are times when the courage to be bold pays off.
With all the great bible stories I’ve covered about men, I think it’s only fair that I finally covered one about a woman. Not just any woman, but a queen, in fact.
That is, Queen Esther.
What makes this story so appealing to me, is that it is truly a “Cinderella” story.
At the start of our story, Esther was not dealt a favorable hand of cards. She was an orphan, raised by her cousin Mordecai in an exiled Jewish community. Given these circumstances, she was somewhat at a disadvantage. And let’s face it- women had limited opportunities back then. Unlike today, women could not aspire to be whatever they wanted. They did not typically take on positions of authority and had very little chance of flourishing outside of a decent marriage.
Call it what you may, but this was the reality that Esther lived in.
I point this out, not to push some kind of ideological agenda, but only to give credit where it is due. See, Esther was no ordinary woman. Esther was a bold woman.
And with that boldness, she managed to win the heart of the Persian king. After a falling out with the previous queen, Vashti, king Xerxes sought out a new queen. Having summoned a number of young women, his first choice is none other than Esther. After twelve months of preparation, our heroine is crowned the new queen of Persia.
Esther 2:17- And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti.
With this kind of favor, you’d think Esther’s problems would disappear altogether. However, receiving the crown was only the beginning of her challenging story.
Sure, Esther had been elevated to a level of high status. But, she wasn’t the only person who had influence over the king. See, Xerxes also had a right hand man named Haman. And Haman was, well…bad news to say the least.
As the story unfolds, we are made of aware of the fact that Haman bears a grudge against Esther’s cousin, Mordecai.
Why the hate?
Because Haman had a sizable ego, and Mordecai refused to bow down to him. Needless to say, this was the perfect recipe for a tense encounter.
Angered by Mordecai’s failure to cooperate, Haman proceeded to concoct a scheme. In one spiteful move, he convinced the king to order a decree that would completely annihilate the Jews. Since Mordecai was in good standing with the king (having previously foiled an assassination plot), this was Haman’s underhanded way of getting revenge. Unbeknownst to him, Esther was also a Jew.
Made aware of this plot, Mordecai reached out to Esther and informed her of what was going on. And, after a few more exchanges, she had all the proof she needed to believe him.
Intimidated by the notion of bringing this information forward however, Esther reasons with her cousin. She reminds him that it is illegal to approach the king without being summoned. And in fact, doing so could result in her being put to death. But, well aware of the stakes involved, Mordecai urges her to be courageous nonetheless.
Esther 4:13-14-Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?”
In other words, Esther had a responsibility. She was placed in a position to make a difference. To be an influencer. A game-changer.
Esther 4:15-17-Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Evidently, Esther was convinced of her calling. She realized that it was up to her to speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. She was chosen as queen for this exact moment. For “such a time as this”.
The story of Esther is a fantastically epic one.
In the end, our heroine is successful. She presents her case to Xerxes, and consequently prevents Haman from carrying out his plan. By choosing to take a risk, she is essentially able to save the entire Jewish population. Safe to say this was not a small-scale feat.
One thing I find interesting about the book of Esther, is that God is never mentioned. In fact, it’s almost as if he was invisible throughout the unfolding of this story. At first, it may even seem as if this book has nothing to do with Christianity at all...but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
You see, while God did not display himself with fireworks, His presence was obvious nonetheless. From the favor placed upon Esther’s life, to the justice that is enacted on behalf of her and her people, it is clear that God was at work behind the scenes all along. Pleased with this young woman’s boldness, He generously rewards her courage and obedience.
My conclusion? We can learn a lot from Esther.
We may never face a dilemma the size of Esther’s. We may never know what it’s like to risk our lives for the sake of telling the truth. Nonetheless, I do believe that we will all be faced with difficult conversations at one point or another. We will all be faced with decisions that require both faith and courage. Decisions that will require us to do what is right, regardless of the response we may receive.
I don’t know what types of dilemmas you are facing. Whether it be in your family, or at your workplace, within your social circle or at your church...I am convinced that we are faced with opportunities to speak the truth on a regular basis. Man or woman, we all carry a degree of influence, and we all have the power to exercise that influence.
So the next time you are presented with a dilemma; To either shrink back or move forward, to speak up, or stay silent...never underestimate the power of a tongue that speaks the truth.
No matter where you stand or what your status may be, I believe that God has given you the gift of favor. I believe that where conviction, there will be resolve to act boldly and courageously.
Think about it. Maybe you are where you are for a reason. Perhaps it is not by accident that you are the one who is being presented with this opportunity. Who’s knows? Maybe you are positioned,
“For such a time as this”.
Did you know that in addition to Sunday services, we offer a complete Pre-school through 12th grade Christian education program?