The book of Esther in the Old Testament records the story I’m going to be sharing with you today. Let me just briefly give you some context for what was occurring in today’s lesson. An edict had gone forth from the Persian king, King Xerxes, that all of the Jews in his kingdom were to be killed. Esther was the queen at this time but King Xerxes didn’t know that she was Jewish so he didn’t think twice about signing the edict. However, Esther’s older cousin, Mordecai who had raised her since early childhood, knew that they were in a desperate situation. His only hope was getting Esther to go before the king and plead for her people. This would mean that she would have to declare her true nationality and that alone might jeopardize her relationship with the king. Then she reminded Mordecai that she
hadn’t been called before the king for 30 days and if she entered his presence and he didn’t raise his scepter, then she was “dead meat.”
History tells us that her husband was a man with an uncontrolled temper, quick to get fiercely angry. And even though she was queen, she could only approach him when he asked for her. Mordecai looks at her and says, in essence, “Well, you’re dead meat anyway as you’re Jewish. But, who knows, perhaps this is the very reason that you were made queen in the first place.”
And then Esther responded in a way that each of us should take to heart. She asked her uncle to get all the Jews living in Susa together and then requested a total fast for three days and nights. She assured him that she and her maids would do the same. There was a banding together of Jews who served the living God, denying themselves food and drink for three days and nights and calling out to Him to save His people. The results were immediate for Esther. After she arose from prayer on the third day, she was able to declare, without fear that she would go into the presence of the king, even though it was against the law. And then she resolutely stated, “If I die, I die,” (Esther 4:14b). She was able to do so without knowing if the king would receive her, but knowing that God was with her regardless.
We are living in a very dangerous time, not because of a potential holocaust, but because of a pandemic. None of us has been left unaffected by COVID-19. Some of you have experienced the virus yourselves or have family members who have, some have lost family or friends to the virus, others have experienced the inconveniences, and there are many, that have been a consequence of it. Some of you have endured physical suffering because you have not been able to see doctors and/or have medical procedures. In some parts of the world, especially for widows and the poor, just getting food has been a major concern, others have suffered emotionally because of the isolation from family. In many places, the virus is being used for political gain and other nefarious purposes. Regardless, it is real and it is deadly.
To summarize, Esther did go to the king who warmly received her, and a plan was devised to circumvent the holocaust. Prayer changes things, but first it changes people as it did Esther.
That is why your founder, Dotti Ackerman, is calling on each of you to fast and pray on July 24th 25th, and 26th for God to stay this virus. She isn’t asking that you remain on your knees for that period of time, but decide which meal you can safely fast, and do so. Pray throughout the day as you’re going about your chores, but make prayer for the healing of our world from this virus the focus of your prayers.
You, too, might feel inadequate or unworthy at approaching God with such a request, thinking of yourself as “just a widow.” But let me remind you that you and your life are important to God. Don’t forget that there are about 80 scriptures that talk about God’s love for the widow and His judgments toward those who mistreat you. Perhaps you, also, have come to this place in your life, this moment in time, this season of life for such a time as this. Be intentional in prayer for a complete annihilation of COVID-19 and then trust God to answer in a way that brings His purposes to fruition and glory to His name. You, too, must reach a place where your trust in God is so complete that you can say, like Esther, “If I die, I die.” In other words, regardless of the outcome, I’m willing to go to battle in prayer and leave it entirely in God’s hands, knowing that I will be changed for the better in the process and God’s purposes will come to pass. May God bless you richly is my prayer.
|Message by Shari Hervold|
Pray throughout the day as you’re going about your chores, but make prayer for the healing of our world from this virus the focus of your prayers.
Prayers during times of crisis (Covid-19, political unrest, war, etc):
By the National Evangelical Association.
- for God's love to be the foundation of our hope;
- for God's mercy in stopping the spread of this virus;
- for God's healing of those who are sick throughout the world;
- for God's strength for medical personnel serving tirelessly:
- for God's insight to be given to researchers seeking solutions:
- for God's wisdom to guide civic leaders and health officials;
- for God's creativity to make us agents of love and compassion;
- and for God's Spirit to draw people to the saving power of Jesus.
May we know the Lord's comfort and strength in our prayer: "Do not be anxious about, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Pray on July 24th 25th, and 26th for God to stay this virus.
Music by Wayne Watson - "For Such a Time as This"