Open Your Bible
Esther 3:1-6, Esther 4:1-17, Esther 8:1-7, Hebrews 4:14-16
When I look at the “what ifs” in my life, I see a thread of fear running through.
What if I’m not enough?
What if I’m misunderstood?
What if I fail, or what if I succeed?
What if they reject me?
What if they betray me?
What if they let me down?
Whatever the circumstance or uncertainty, my “what if” statements have something in common: their subject is usually me, or some other flaw-filled, doubtful human.
But when I hang all my hopes on me, they are dashed before they even get off the ground. When I look to others to fix or fill me, staying broken and empty is inevitable.
When focused on anything other than God and His promises, “what if” is a banner of fear instead of a flag of faith.
No one could have predicted the “what ifs” of Esther’s unconventional life. Raised by her cousin Mordecai after her parents died, young Esther was summoned to the king’s palace in his search for a successor to the ousted Queen Vashti (see Esther 1). After a year of royal “training” in which her identity as a Jew remained secret, Esther went before the king. He was immediately taken with her, and the orphan girl became the queen.
But Esther’s unlikely rise to favor and influence was only the beginning of her story.
Not long after Queen Esther helped save her new king’s life (see Esther 2:21-23), she learned of another evil plot. In a murderous rage incited by Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him, Haman, a top advisor to the king, issued a decree that all Jews in the empire be killed. By granting Haman undue power, Esther’s king had unknowingly declared the genocide of her people.
Imagine the what ifs that must have run through Esther’s heart and mind. The life of her people—the very survival of the Jewish race—hung in the balance. Any attempt to intervene could very well cost Esther her life. But Mordecai, the man who raised Esther and loved her as his own child, spoke up:
“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14b, ESV)
Mordecai spoke from faith. “The Jews will be delivered,” he told her, “even if not by you. But what if this is your time? Esther, what if you are the vessel of deliverance?” (my paraphrase)
I wonder if scenes from Esther’s childhood flashed through Mordecai’s mind like old home movies as he sent her the impassioned and dangerous plea: What if this is why you’re here?
Esther listened. She prayed. She sought God’s will and favor before and above that of the king. She did so publicly, asking others to pray and fast with her. Though her earthly king might very well smite her dead, she went before him with the authority of the heavenly Father who bids His children come to His throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16). And God used Esther to rescue her people from certain death.
Here’s the glorious secret, friends: redemption is a sure thing. Look at this beautiful word from Paul in 2 Corinthians:
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.
That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
(2 Cor. 1:20, ESV)
Jesus is the fulfillment of every one of God’s promises—our job is simply to agree! Why then, do we shrink back in fear, talking ourselves out of participating in Kingdom work?
What if we reclaimed our “what ifs” today?
What if, like Esther, we seized the opportunity to turn our faith into action?
What if, like Mordecai, we saw deliverance where others see doom?
What if we redirected our gaze from our empty expectations to His real redemption?
What if we set down the burden of fear and picked up the promises and possibilities of God?
His love trumps our fear, no matter the circumstance (1 John 4:18). May we know that truth today and have the courage to live it.