To paraphrase Kenneth Cole, “It’s great to be known for your shoes, better to be known for your soul.”
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
Ephesians 6:15, John 16:33
How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them?
As Scripture says,
“How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News.”
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.
Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You’ve always known that we’re in for this kind of thing. It’s part of our calling. Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. Your suffering will go on for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Acts 14:22, 1 Thessalonians 3:3, Revelation 2:10-11
Recently the world “celebrated” women on International Women’s Day focusing on the plight of women in one region where men exercise their authority through abusing their “honor” to degrade and murder women. Ironically at the same time, around the world, Judaism celebrated Purim, a generational celebration of God’s miraculous deliverance brought about by the obedience of one woman who stared in the face of annihilation.
The Jewish and Christian Book of Esther highlights two noteworthy women in the Bible: Queen Esther and Queen Vashti.
Vashti in prideful indignation claimed her rights and lost the crown; Esther’s humble surrender saved not only her people, but her life and crown.
It happened like this–Vashti
After days of partying and drinking, her husband, King Ahasuerus, demanded that she appear before him and entertain his guests wearing her crown. But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.
Vashti was permanently banned from King Xerxes’ presence. And then the king gave her royal position to a woman who knew her place–Esther.Now Esther’s real name was Hadassah for she was a Jewess and an orphan raised by her father’s nephew, Mordecai.
The king fell in love with Esther far more than with any of his other women or any of the other virgins—he was totally smitten by her. He placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet for all his nobles and officials—”Esther’s Banquet.” He proclaimed a holiday for all the provinces and handed out gifts with royal generosity. All this time,
Queen Esther kept her family background and race a secret as Mordecai had ordered.
A day came when her true identity was put to the test. Which crown would she choose?
Wicked Haman through the age-old hatred of the Jewish people sought to annihilate them, not knowing the true identity of his king’s queen. God places people where He wills according to His good purpose to give us a hope and a future. For He alone is in control.
“Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” -Mordechai
Esther endured through prayer and fasting; Vashti perished through merriment and feasting.
Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”
Three days later Esther dressed in her royal robes and took up a position in the inner court of the palace in front of the king’s throne room. The king was on his throne facing the entrance. When he noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased to see her; the king extended the gold scepter in his hand. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. The king asked, “And what’s your desire, Queen Esther? What do you want? Ask and it’s yours—even if it’s half my kingdom!”
“If it please the king,” said Esther, “let the king come with Haman to a dinner I’ve prepared for him.” Esther 5:4
When going through trials and tests what is your reaction? Do you struggle to keep your life intact and balanced as life spirals seemingly out of control? Are you fighting just to maintain dignity and hope in trying circumstances that appear to rob of both?
How do you respond to trials? Bitter or better? The only difference is one letter–I changed to E. And the E stands for “Emmanuel–God with us.” The secret is where the I of me changes to the E of Emmanuel–Jesus!
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Matthew 16:25, Luke 9:25
And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us.
Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:12
You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession. We have been born into a new life which has an inheritance that can’t be destroyed or corrupted and can’t fade away. That inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
Hebrews 10:34, 1 Peter 1:4
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. “I am now entrusting you to God and to his message that tells how kind he is. That message can help you grow and can give you the inheritance that is shared by all of God’s holy people.”
Isaiah 66:22, Acts 20:32
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the king’s order came into effect. This was the very day that the enemies of the Jews had planned to overpower them, but the tables were now turned: the Jews overpowered those who hated them!
Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, backed Mordecai the Jew, using her full queenly authority in humility before her king and was given authority to endorse and ratify what he wrote. Instead of despair, peace and reassurance went out to all the Jews throughout the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom to fix these days of Purim their assigned place on the calendar, dates set by Mordecai the Jew—what they had agreed to for themselves and their descendants regarding their fasting and mourning. Esther’s word confirmed the tradition of Purim and was written in the book.
Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the archenemy of all Jews, who had schemed to destroy all Jews. He had cast the pur (the lot) to throw them into a panic and destroy them. But when Queen Esther intervened with the king, he gave written orders that the evil scheme that Haman had worked out should boomerang back on his own head. He and his sons were hanged on the gallows. That’s why these days are called “Purim,” from the word pur or “lot.”
The days of Purim:
The month in which their sorrow turned to joy, mourning somersaulted into a holiday for parties and fun and laughter, the sending and receiving of presents and of giving gifts to the poor.
“You will receive a double measure of wealth instead of your shame. You will sing about your wealth instead of being disgraced. That is why you will have a double measure of wealth in your land. You will have everlasting joy.”
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.