Scripture Reading: Esther 9:23-32, Esther 10:1-3, Leviticus 16:29-31, Ephesians 1:3-14
Things don’t always go according to plan.
Take the summertime of 1812, for example. Paris was warm and beautiful, and Napoleon’s army was 600,000 men strong. He was on top of the world, but Russia’s Czar Alexander was really starting to get on his nerves. He ignored French trade embargos, and worse, refused to let Napoleon marry one of his sisters. Frustrated but confident, Napoleon made his most ambitious plan yet: take Moscow and show Alexander once and for all who was the greater ruler.
Napoleon crossed from Poland into Russia, his vast army advancing deeper and deeper into the countryside as the Russian forces burned their crops and fled before him. But as he advanced, Napoleon’s supplies and men began to dwindle. And although he did finally limp into Moscow in October, the wind and snow had started to swirl and bite—winter was coming. With only a sixth of his men remaining, Napoleon had to retreat, defeated not by Russia’s military, but by her freezing, obliterating winter.
If you’ve ever engaged in a land war in Asia, or even parented small children, you know things hardly ever go as planned. So why do we continue to believe we can control our circumstances? History and personal experience prove God alone is in control. The Red Sea parted, Jericho’s walls collapsed, and fire fell on Mt. Carmel—we are not the ones running the show.
Haman planned to crush the Jews (Esther 9:24). He wanted to destroy them. We’ve seen examples of this kind of horrific racism all throughout history. In every era, men have shown this evil instinct to destroy other men for being different. They lay their evil plans, perhaps prevailing for a time, but in the end, their plans fall flat. They may cast the dice, but God alone controls the outcome.
In our own failed Napoleonic aspirations we are quick to become frustrated, lamenting, “Nothing ever goes like I plan!” But every failed human plan is actually cause for thanksgiving, because all things happen according to the good pleasure of God’s will (Romans 8:28). Likewise, when the enemies of God approach, armed with malice and intent upon blood, we can still give thanks. God Himself is our defense, and we should not fail to celebrate His good providence in all things.
At the end of the book of Esther, the Jewish people celebrate God’s deliverance. They not only celebrate in the present, but they vow to celebrate in the future—to remember who they are and what God has done:
“These days are remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim will not lose their significance in Jewish life and their memory will not fade from their descendants.”
- Esther 9:28
May we also remember. May we remember, with Solomon, that “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). May our hearts respond in thanksgiving because He alone is God, and there is no one like Him (Isaiah 46:9). May we celebrate our freedom in Christ by remembering what we’ve been saved from, and Who has saved us from it.
Make your plans, but rejoice and remember: it is the Lord who had a good plan for us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Glory be to Him.