The book of Esther opens with the swift and forced exit of Queen Vashti, followed by a country-wide search for a new Queen. The King selects a young Jewish orphan named Esther. Just as she is settling into palace life, an enemy of the Jewish people has cleverly manipulated the King to issue a royal edict calling for the murder of her people. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, has begged her to go to the King. He warned her about the cost of her silence. However, she knows that speaking to the King without an invitation could result in her immediate death.
13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think to yourself that in the King's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13-14 ESV)
Esther responded to Mordecai’s charge.
16 "Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the King, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16 ESV)
Have you ever faced such a difficult decision in your life? Of course, it is unlikely that most of us will face the threat of genocide; however, most of us will face difficult decisions made in rugged and isolated places.
Have you been asked to give up a dream or a great opportunity so that someone you love can pursue their goal?
Have you ever agreed to take on something painful or challenging because it was necessary?
Have you ever been called upon to advocate for someone who is suffering or in need of help?
For such a time as this…. What is God calling you to take on or take off in this season?
Sooner or later, we will all have to rely on our faith in God in a season of hardship. Do you find yourself in a time of difficulty? Or is someone you love walking through a season of suffering?
Psalm 22 was written as a psalm of lament by King David. God provides psalms in the Bible for us to process complicated and passionate feelings. There are psalms for lament or sadness, like this one. Psalms are designed to process anger, betrayal, thanksgiving, joy, and acceptance.
Psalm 22 is often called a prophetic psalm pointing to Jesus’ time on the cross. However, the Jewish people have a different perspective.
The Oral Torah states that King David wrote this Psalm in foreknowledge of the time of Hadassah, also known as Queen Esther.
What does this portion of Psalm 22 say about having faith amid hardship? Take a few minutes to read through this portion of the Psalm and see what the Lord has for you.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2 ESV)
Lord, we thank you for being close by even in my suffering. Even when I cannot see or feel you, I will choose to believe you are still there. Thank you for hearing my hard questions and being willing to answer them in your perfect timing and perfect ways.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you, they trusted and were not put to shame. (Psalm 22: 3-5 ESV)
Lord, does how I feel about you, change who You are?
How do I counter the negative voice in my head?
Try reading a psalm of praise or thanksgiving. Then, try reading Psalm 145 or 146.
God is present in the praises of His people. What could you specifically praise God about today? For what could you give thanks?
What do I know is true about me? About God?
You are still on your throne even when it does not seem so. Lord, you have been faithful to generations before me. You are trustworthy to deliver over decades.
Take a moment to close your eyes and ask the Lord, what do you want me to know about you right now?
Lord, I thank you for delivering those who went before me. Thank you for answering their prayers. Please help me give thanks and record how you rescued my people and me. Thank you for bringing redemption out of the worst situations. Please help me to see how you will do that for me. If I can’t see those solutions right now, help me to know that your rescue is not based on my understanding.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 "He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" (Psalm 22:6-8 ESV)
Even when I feel like a worm or entirely worthless, these feelings I have do not define me. You say I am beloved, called, and cared for. Even when those around me mock me, Lord and You are still for me.
Take a moment to remember the times God has rescued you, delivered you, and delighted in you.
Lord, help to recall times when you have delivered me. Could you help me make a list and give thanks? Fill my mind with examples of Your faithfulness. Help me trust and delight in You. Help me have courage and wisdom in all difficult decisions knowing You are right by my side. Amen