Holding Hope and Sitting in Ashes

posted in: Faith, Family | 4

It must have felt so final the day that the news spread around Susa…


12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.(Esther 3:12-13)

Esther had been appointed queen and she herself was a jew (although the king did not know it!), and a man with a severe hatred toward Jews who also happened to hold lots of power, convinced the king to issue an irrevocable decree insuring the slaughter of all of the Jews in Persia. I’m sure the Jews had been quietly living and going about their jobs and lives- when like a lightening bolt, their lives were disrupted and their death was immenant.

Esther 4:1-3 says: When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.

But amidst it all, Esther realized through her adopted dad/ cousin Mordecai, that she was probably appointed as Queen by God, so that she could be a voice in the middle of such terror. Because of this knowledge:

13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”      (Esther 4:13-14)

Her response:

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “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 4:15)

All of the Jews in Persia sat in mourning. Some wore burlap as a sign of their humility and desperate state before God. Many sat in ashes for the same reason. This was a statement of their spiritual condition,

“God we are solely dependant on your deliverance alone. All hope is gone without you, Lord. The date has been set for our destruction- unless you intervene, our hopes and very lives are finished.”

Yet, they joined together. They prayed. They could pray because they still held on to hope. They could cry out desperatly before God, because they knew God heard them. They knew that even when a decree had been made that, as far as earthly things were concerned, could never be reversed- there was an ALMIGHTY GOD who could do ANYTHING. They held that hope, probably while well meaning people re-affirmed their pending doom by bidding them kind farewells and planning out what loot they might could gain from their soon-to-be-dead neighbors. They probably heard many things like, 

“I’m so sorry this terrible thing is happening to good folks like you Jews. You guys were nice contributing members of society. Too bad there’s nothing at all that can change what is coming now that the king has issued this unchangeable decree, and all. Real bummer.” 

Yet, when Esther asked them to pray, they still had hope in the faithful God who had led their nation out of slavery against every odd. They still held hope because their grandmothers and grandfathers had told them the incredible stories about the time they had been penned up between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea with no physical way of escape, and how their faithful God had parted that very sea and led them to safety on the other side. They knew about how their forefathers had been without bread and water in a desert, and there was no human way to survive- yet their faithful God brought forth water from a rock and bread from the sky. And while the rebellion of their parents had led their nation into captivity in Persia- they still had hope in the grace and love of that same faithful God toward them. Enough that even if every. single. odd. was stacked against them- they knew the Living God who formed the stars and called them each out by name, could do anything He wanted to.

And He did. He used their faith- He used their trust. He used a scared jewish girl who had been made queen to intercede at the last minute. He rescued them.

I love to read these true stories about my faithful God. I love it because His Word says that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I love to see how the Lord Almighty almost prefers working in the realm of stacked odds to what He’s promised- just to show the nations that He alone is working the deliverance. That’s MY Savior. That’s MY Lord.

Today I have hope. Not because any physical thing at all says what I want it to. But because- I know my faithful God is alive and I know He is at work. And while my physical body may sit in ashes over the decree issued over our family-as I cry out on behalf of the two children so close to my heart…                                                                                      my spirit declares the HOPE- in a miracle working God who promised to hear when we call; a God who loves taking the impossible and using the least likely people to display His glory.

The greater the pending doom, the greater the deliverance. The more terrible the odds, the greater glory God gets when He writes out the story just the way He wants to.

So do not throw away your confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

4 Responses

  1. Amen! Love you guys!

  2. Rembering what Josiah told me in Sunday School all those years ago…
    “I believe. I believe!”
    I believe.

  3. Calley Reed

    Thank you!!

  4. Calley Reed

    Love you too!