This is an unfortunate phrase, signifying discontent, loss of purpose, and defeat. It can happen to any of us: we get weary in situations, jobs, mistakes, thinking everything is against us and we can’t do it anymore. Some of us struggle to find meaning in life or our next steps. It can be discouraging, and in the face of failure, we lose sight of God’s calling. We then start to muse over the impossible scenario that we never even existed. This is another aspect of the enemy trying to strip us of our identity. While God promises us life, the enemy causes us to disdain it.
There is a story in the Old Testament during the Persian exile in which a young Jewish girl was elevated to a high position of influence and was reluctantly put into a precarious situation. The king was calling for a banquet and wanted his wife, Vashti, to attend. She refused, disrespecting and embarrassing her husband. He was advised immediately to banish her or her rebellion would start a chain reaction across the kingdom. Esther becomes the new queen, joined by her cousin Moredcai.
Another story starts to enfold as the ambitious Haman is riding through the city and Mordecai refuses to bow before him. This infuriates Haman who plots for the destruction of Mordecai’s people. Mordecai learns of this and informs Esther that it’s time to step up and fight for her people. She begins to face self-condemnation, fear, and uncertainty. Her life sucks! Her people are defeated, she loses her family, and now she’s facing certain death for disturbing the king. Why does everything happen to me? Why is God putting me through this? I wish I’d never been born. Though reluctant, Esther resolved in her heart that this was her defining moment. Too many have given up just short of the finish line.
“The whole world knows that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him in more than a month.” So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai. Mordecai sent back this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” 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 am willing to die” (Esther 4:11-16). In doing so, she turned the conspiracy against Haman, and convinced the king to spare the Israelites.
As many women and men of God obeyed Him, it required at times supernatural courage and faith. But the result of submitting to God turned the tide of defeat to victory and Esther saved her people from certain extinction. We see four different people responding to their place in life:
- Vashti literally means “beauty.” It’s one thing to be beautiful, but to bask in it and flaunt it is another, especially if we try to use it to our advantage. Her banquet was more important than her husband and she refused to honor and obey the king. She represents the people who run from their highest calling, focusing more on their personal agendas and trusting in their giftings to succeed.
- Mordecai means “little man” which he lived out. He made himself small, unseen, and unnoticed. His name also means “worshipper,” in other words, he didn’t grab glory for himself. He was a willing servant who stood by his convictions, refusing to bow before man, even in the face of death. He refused to let even the smallest of compromises slip in. His humility brought prominence and enabled him to fulfill his calling to empower others. He found success in helping others succeed. These are the people who don’t crave the spotlight and don’t talk about themselves. They’re content glorifying God and elevating others
- Haman means “to make great” which is literally what he tried to do. He longed to be the center of attention and the subject of praises. He trusted in own schemes, plots, and solutions. His insecurity led him to try creating his own destiny but instead led to his downfall. This is indicative of those who are led by selfish ambition and pride.
- Esther – means “star” or one who shines brightest in the darkness, releasing inner strength, not external/superficial adornment. She was simple, ordinary…an everyday person…the very people that God wants to use. These are those who declare, “Here am I, Lord. Send me!”
If we keep quiet, refuse to act, resist God’s call, and disobey His commands…
- We will miss our divine moment. God wants to use us, but He doesn’t need us. He will find someone who is sold out to Him. ”deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place” (v. 14).
- We will let down those who are depending on us. ”but you and your relatives will die” (v. 14).
- We have a destiny. We are all called to do something. If we refuse, something will be left undone. “What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” (v. 14).
- We must be decisive and determined. “I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I am willing to die” (v. 16).
Esther was a woman of prayer and eventually did what was necessary to fulfill her purpose. She was willing to lay down her very life. She put the cause of her people above her natural instinct of self-preservation. Leaders must be willing to give up to go up. God wants to use us. People are counting on us. Needs must be met. Each one of us accept the statement: “You have been raised up for such a time as this!”
Questions for thought…
What am I hesitating to complete or accomplish?
What are the consequences of me not following through?
What will it take for me to respond to the challenge “brace yourself to your duties?”