Have you ever had one of those days/weeks/months where life just seems like a bit of a battle and things feel overwhelming? Well, that’s where I found myself this month. In the space of 24 hours my car broke down over an hour away from home, I got an infection in my eye, had to cancel a trip away, and, in my tired and run-down state, I snapped at someone close to me and upset them. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. If I’m honest I felt utterly exhausted.
I’m sure we can all think of seasons where the challenges just seemed to keep on coming or the battle we were, or perhaps are, facing seemed too big to climb. There may even have been times when we have questioned “God, how are you going to pull through this time?”
I wonder if that question was on the lips of the Jewish people in the provinces surrounding Susa when they received the royal decree that in eleven months’ time their whole people group was to be wiped out. In fact, not just wiped out, but destroyed, killed, and annihilated were the words used in the edict (Esther 3:12-14). I can’t even begin to imagine the surge of emotions that accompany receiving such horrific news.
But let me back up a moment and give a bit of backstory for those who may not be so familiar with the book of Esther (it’s a great book, I would highly recommend reading it!). Haman was a high-up official to King Xerxes and Xerxes had commanded that all the royal officials at the king’s gate kneel and honour Haman. Mordecai, a Jew who served at the king’s gate (and was also the cousin of Esther, King Xexes’ wife) refused to kneel down and honour Mordecai. So, Haman became enraged and decided to take revenge by killing all the Jewish people in the kingdom. He convinces the king to allow him to issue a royal edict declaring that all Jewish people in the kingdom were to be killed on a certain day.
And here we find an example of God’s perfect timing.
You see, the decree was written on the thirteenth day of the first month and so would likely have been sent out on the fourteenth day. The fourteenth day of the first month also happens to be the Passover celebration for the Jewish people (Leviticus 23:4-5). On this day, the Jewish people recount the story of how God saved their people from the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army (you can read about this in Exodus 14). The very day they receive the news of impending disaster is the same day God called them to remind themselves who He was and all He had already done for them.*
How often do we forget when we receive bad news or face a challenging situation all that God has done for us in the past and start to panic? How often do we miss out on hope and peace because we don’t take time to look back and see His hand at work?
After reading that scripture I dug out some old journals, curled up on the sofa and began to read. As I read I was reminded of the abundance of times God has provided in unexpected and varied ways, of how He has led me through difficult and challenging times, bringing me to the other side often stronger, having learned a great deal, and better prepared to face whatever came next. I reminded myself of promises He had fulfilled, and unearned blessings that far exceeded anything I could ever have asked for or imagined. I reminded myself of who God is and all He has done so far in my journey.
How can you take time today to remind yourself of who God is and what He’s done in your life?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
*Credit to Beth Moore (2008). Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Lifeway Press: Nashville, Tennessee.