Here we are in Chapter Four of Esther, sisters, and today we are looking at verses 8-11. Wow – there are so many topics that jumped out, wanting to be discussed! But I want to delve further into one that touches us all in some form or another – trials or testing. To say that Mordecai and Esther were facing trials is a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you say? And yet, while facing the same trial – extinction – they each had their own individual trial, as well; Mordecai was concerned for his people and their salvation, Esther was concerned for her own safety in honoring Mordecai’s request to approach the King.
Sisters, we’re going to have trials. Troubles. Rough patches. Dry seasons. Disappointments. Jesus tells us this several times throughout the Gospels, and Darlene reminds us of 1 Peter 4:12 – 13 (NIV). “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” Uh, wait a minute – did that scripture say rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ? Yep. And so does this one, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-3 NIV). These verses in James say we will go through trials “of many kinds” – some will be severe, some not so much. We may be losing our keys or our patience. We may be having “one of those days” or wonder if we’ll even make it through the day. But God allows us to face trials because they “develop perseverance.” I saw perseverance defined as “steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement” (Dictionary.com). So, if I can paraphrase, God allows us to face trials so that we can develop the ability to stay the course, finish the race – in spite of what difficulties, obstacles or discouragement will come our way (especially from our enemy, Satan).
I know, I know. I hear the protest rising from you right now. “How am I supposed to rejoice in the trial I am going through now? You have NO IDEA what I am suffering.” You’re so right…I don’t. But God does. And He promises never to leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), so He will be with you through the whole thing. He also tells us that “…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me…” (Isaiah 54:17 NIV). “Yes, yes,” I hear you protesting, “but joy, Robin? JOY???” Yes, sisters, joy. Because unlike happiness, which can come and go with our moods, joy is the deeper sense of understanding and well-being that comes from accepting that God is in complete control of your life and, as such, will always work on your behalf, for your good, because He promised (Romans 8:28).
Trials are not easy, sisters. And no one said you had to be happy to experience them. But they do give you the chance to get closer to God. Psalm 34:18 (NIV) says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” When you find yourself in a hard place or season—cry out to God! He hears you. He LOVES you. He wants to help you. He wants to deliver you! He wants to fill all the voids in your life. He encourages you to “cast ALL your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
I have heard testing/trials described beautifully in this way: “Our lives are like gold – but in its unrefined state. The goldsmith heats up the metal – so hot that it is liquefied – and then begins to skim the impurities and waste from the surface. This happens not once, but MANY times. Each time the goldsmith skims the impurities and waste from the surface. Do you know when it’s done? When the goldsmith can see his face mirrored in the surface of the gold.” God does the same with our lives. The rough times, hard times, difficult seasons, times of trial and suffering are like the heat used to liquefy the metal that is our character. If we allow God to ‘heat up’ our character, he will skim the impurities and the waste that particular challenge brings out of us. With each trial we become more like Him (remember our first scripture, 1 Peter 4:12-13?) until one day God sees His face mirrored in our lives, and His glory is revealed – in us!
Dear God, I am asking You to help me through the trials I am experiencing in my life. There are times that I just don’t know what to do, and I wonder how I’m going to get through this. Thank You, Lord, that I can pour my heart out to You and trust that not only CAN You help me, but You WILL help me! Thank You for holding me in the palm of Your hand. If there are areas that I haven’t surrendered to Your care, please help me give them to You. Help me to cast ALL my anxieties on You! Thank You, Lord, for Your protection and provision. Help me to come through this fire looking more like You every day. In the name of Your Son I pray.