The God Who Brings Hope by Michael Chapman
One time when I was in junior high, I remember feeling like I was never going to get that coveted girlfriend. Gone were the years of tag recess and “cooties”. Now, it was all about taking those crushes to the next level of boyfriend and girlfriend status. Yet, I had that hopeless feeling. To compound the feeling of hopelessness, I thought my never-ending cycle of acne, random moments of armpit sweat, and unexpected blips of vocal cracking would forever go on and keep me from getting a girlfriend. But things worked out, and I met a fine young lady that was interested in me (no, it wasn’t Kylie)! I thought life was grand and I couldn’t have been happier. Well, that lasted all of three weeks and she dumped me. Hmph! Back into hopelessness and despair I traveled.
While that story is whimsical and really of no consequence, my lack of hope and feeling much like a loser were real and authentic. Yet, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I imagine Israel felt during their exile into Babylonian captivity. A people whose ancestors labored furiously to build a grand temple to house the presence of God and enjoyed many years of peace found themselves defeated, deported, and without hope. Babylon left Jerusalem and the temple ransacked and empty. This is where a tiny book called Esther comes into play.
“Now the king and Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.’ Then Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.’ Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.”
Esther 7:1-6 NAU
Maybe you know the story, maybe you don’t. If you’re not too familiar with it, stop here and read it. It’s a quick read and an amazing little book. These highlighted verses depict Esther, a Jew and queen of Persia, making her plea to the king of Persia to save the Jewish people from annihilation because of a man named Haman (cast as the villain of the story). This man Haman was seeking the genocide of all Jewish people. Esther’s plea is received well by the Persian king, and the Jews are rescued! Without too much of a dive into background detail, it’s worth pointing out that Esther was likely written after the exile into Babylonian captivity; meaning it was just after the time period I pointed out at the beginning of this devotional. The major points of Esther are twofold: one, it brought into the imagination of the Jews God’s great acts of deliverance and, two, the story gave the Jewish people hope when they needed it most (post exile). Isn’t God great? When the people needed a word to inspire and remind them of God’s character, promises, deliverance, salvation, compassion, and power, he gave them the book of Esther.
We, too, are a people in need of hope right now. Not only hope, but also the reminder that God is working in our midst right now to bring hope, peace, deliverance, and salvation from our trials and hardship. God is so good. He is concerned about his people, and that won’t ever stop. I want to close out with an encouraging message God shared through the prophet Jeremiah.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
Pray: Remind me of your goodness and great acts of deliverance in my own life right now, God. Remind me to not lose hope but find it.
Action: Take a moment and write a list of five significant ways God has provided for, delivered, or saved you in your lifetime. Put this list on your car dashboard, bathroom mirror, or refrigerator and dwell in these acts that display God’s triumph over your fears and problems. Share some of these ways on social media to encourage us as well!
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