It was less than a week after I had moved all the way across the country for an internship at AccuWeather when I first met my husband. I had applied to that internship for the summer of 2013, but it was given to a friend of mine so I spent my time in Arizona. It just so happened that the summer of 2013, Ricky wasn’t in State College either. But one year later, I moved in with a family that worked for a campus ministry whose headquarters weas located directly in front of AccuWeather. And it just so happened that Ricky was helping lead the summer internship for that same ministry.
There are a million other small details that Ricky & I will still talk about. Like how the only job offer he had received after college. On my side, there was a lot of heartbreak that left me questioning God, How plan, and His goodness. But hindsight is 20/20. Now I know that what looked like absence or coincidence, when we put them together, look a whole lot more like someone’s plan than just chance.
We have now come to the point of the story in Esther where God’s peculiar, timely execution of justice is revealed and His active hand throughout the entire book becomes a bit easier to see. The tides are about to shift. So far it has looked as if all odds were against Esther, Mordecai and the Jewish people. Haman, however, up until this point had only gained more power and favor.
Let’s highlight 8 things in this section that may look like simple coincidences on the surface, but are really, in combination with one another and various actions in previous chapters, the active hand of God working to execute his timely justice.
1. v. 6:1a “On that night (the night after Esther’s first feast for Haman and the King, and after Haman had the gallows built to hang Mordecai) the King could not sleep.” (Italics added for context)
It just so happens that right after Esther first appears and holds a feast for the King in order for a request to be granted, and right after Haman builds a gallows to hang Mordecai on, King Ahasuerus is kept awake.
2. v. 6:1b-2 “And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the King. And it just happened to be found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuch’s who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
Of all the stories to read, they just so happen to read about when Mordecai saved the king from a murder plot.
3. v. 6:3 And the King said, ‘What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?’ The King’s young men who attended him said, ‘Nothing has been done for him.’”
If King Ahasuerus had actually honored Mordecai before, he would not have been sought after during this time, when his people’s and his own life are in danger.
4. v. 6:4-5 “And the King said, ‘Who is in the court?’ Now Haman had just happened to have entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for him. And the King’s young men told him, ‘Haman is there, standing in the court.’ And the king said, ‘Let him come in.’”
Well, this is certainly an almost humorous “coincidence”. Of all the people to show up right when the king is looking to honor Mordecai, Haman just so happens to be waiting in the outer court to ask permission to kill Mordecai. Instead he finds himself leading Mordecai, clothed in royal robes and on the King’s royal horse, through the city as a thank you from the King for saving his life. The worst part for Haman is that it was his own idea.
5. v 6:14 “While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.”
While Haman’s family is telling him how he will not overcome Mordecai, but fall before him to ruin, the King’s eunuchs come to bring him to the feast that will eventually lead to his death.
6. v 7: 2 “And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your wish, Queen Esther?”
If Esther had asked at the first feast for the King to spare her own life as well as her people’s, Haman would not have had the gallows built for Mordecai yet, and the King would not have honored Mordecai either.
7. v. 7:8 “And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, just as Haman happened to be falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, ‘Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?’ As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face.”
After hearing of Haman’s evil plan, the King furiously storms out of the room while Haman remains with Esther to beg for his life. Now I’m not sure exactly what it means that Haman fell on the couch, but I can assume that what it looked like to the King as he just so happened to walk back in at that moment, was that Haman was either taking advantage of Esther or seeking to do her harm. This stirred the King’s wrath even further to the point where he calls for Haman’s death immediately.
8. v. 7:10a “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.”
The night before Haman believed he had built the gallows for his enemy, but God had it built for Haman himself.
How many coincidences does it take to get us to believe they aren’t actually coincidences but God’s right hand? It is God’s timely justice, plan and good purpose set before his people.
So how does this affect us?
If I believe God is always working, that he is for my good and his glory, and that he executes timely justice, I can endure whatever comes.
But how do we know this? I mean the “know” that settles the deep turmoil within us, that brings a peace that surpasses all understanding. Sure, we have these wonderful promises in scripture that are definitely a place to be comforted with the reminders of God’s faithfulness throughout all of history.
And yet, sometimes it feels like we need more to calm the raging waters in our souls. I think that’s where our own spiritual eyes come into play. I have a running list of God’s faithfulness to me in situations where I had believed He had left me to fend for myself.
- No money to pay a month’s rent, and a huge unexpected tax-return at the perfect time
- Redemption and reconciliation with my husband during a painful engagement
- A friend made at a summer job who’s wife and himself brought healing to the deep fears I held with their own marital testimony
In all these things, I at some point felt hopeless, alone, in the midst of a metaphorical death. But God… you know, He’s wild. He’s big, majestic, powerful. He breathes and things come into existence or cease to exist. His ways aren’t understandable, but they sure are good and adventurous. Despite suffering, I do not doubt my God’s goodness.
How? Not only do I see it across scripture, and in my own life, but I see it in His giving up of Jesus on the Cross. He is the assurance of what I hope for.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
And if my perfect Savior had to suffer to be brought up in full glory, how can I not expect the same? The difference is because we are hidden in Christ, we don’t only expect suffering, but we stand in faith that through and despite suffering, we will not lack peace, but wait patiently for the resurrection and crown of glory that is ours.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
James 1:2-4; 12
Don’t we see this with Esther and Mordecai both?
They endured mighty suffering. Esther, orphaned, taken from her only family to play the harlot for the King. Mordecai, had Esther, the child he loved like his own daughter taken and unable to see her. Then because of Mordecai, the proclamation for his people’s annihilation. Talk about a painful and fearful existence.
But they drew comfort in God’s faithfulness. They sought Him and found him and His peace, despite their pain and fear. And God, in all his goodness can be seen steering the vessel, using the evil in their lives for their good and eventually for his glory.
We too can have peace and comfort despite our pain and fears. We too, have a God working for our good and his glory, and He will, even in our death have the last word to lift us into eternal life.
- Where are you struggling to see God at work in your life?
- How does his record of faithfulness and Christ’s resurrection impact the seasons of life marked with doubt, fear and loneliness?