Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Esther is one of my favorite Bible stories. It's very "good guys vs bad guys", even with a couple plot twists. But man, reading it again today I realized how messed up the world is that this book describes! King Xerxes (cool name, btw) decides he wants to parade his wife in front of all of his guests. So he sends word to Queen Vashti (also a cool name) that she should come let the other men "gaze on her beauty". She is having none of this (good for her) and this enrages the king. Now, to be fair, there is a semblance of goodness in the next bit, because the king doesn't have her killed, he just kicks her out and picks a new Queen.
So a new plan is put into effect, where young girls from all over the world (from India to Ethiopia) are brought to the king to spend one night each with him. Sounds great for the girls, right? And if they're lucky enough, the king will especially enjoy them and ask for them by name to come back.
The entire system is really messed up, as we realize today. The deeply entrenched patriarchy makes all of this exploitation of young girls possible. And, eventually, the system is changed. God reveals truth to us, and we realize that women are people, too, and should be treated with dignity and respect as fellow human beings. Just like we finally realize that slavery is a bad thing and do away with it, as well.
But in the meantime.... God works in the midst of the messiness. He gives Mordecai and Esther wisdom to navigate the treacherous waters of this messed up system. Mordecai avoids being destroyed himself (along with all of his people in a very Nazi-like plan by Haman to destroy the Jews and take their wealth) and counsels Esther to convince the king to spare her people. A beautiful resolution to a huge problem.
We turn from this story and we look at our own lives. Things are upside down in the world today, too. Sure, we've learned that women have rights, and slavery is wrong. But there are so many things still happening in the world today that are so wrong, and it's hard to believe they still happen. ISIS is decapitating people for being of a different belief system than themselves. Humans are being killed by the millions in the United States just because they haven't had a chance to be born yet. And who among us can say that we live perfect lives and always do what we should? If that's you, you should stop reading, because this blog isn't for you (you're too good for me!) :)
But God reaches down into our messy lives, our messy world, and He changes things. He hears our cries. He helps us to make a difference. Eventually He will help us change things on a macro-level. We will see the kinds of changes that we've already seen in women's rights and human rights for slaves... but for all faiths and for the unborn. We will see God fix the things in our own lives that are broken.
But in the meantime... He relates to us as we are. He loves us in the midst of our messy lives. He doesn't shrink from holding our hand as we navigate the treacherous waters of our messy world.
Thank You, God, for being here with us.