Summary: Two opposing traits at work.

Esther 5:1-14

Problems, Prayer & Pride

Woodlawn Baptist Church

August 22, 2004


As we get started this morning, we’re going to take a quick poll. I am looking for people who have problems or difficult challenges facing them. It may be a health related problem, finances, family, work, church or some other thing. If you are one of these people, please raise your hand.

You know, I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t have problems of some sort. From leaky roofs to arthritis, bald tires or misbehaving kids, everyone has problems. Sometimes you may feel like the men I read about on a sinking ship. Left on this ship were the captain and three sailors. The captain spoke first. "Men, this business about a captain going down with his ship is nonsense. There’s a three-man life raft on board and I’m going to be on it. To see who will come with me, I will ask you each one question. The one who can’t answer will stay behind. Here’s the first question: What unsinkable ship went down when it hit an iceberg?" The first sailor answered, "The Titanic, sir." "On to the next question: How many people perished?" The second sailor said, "One thousand five hundred and seventeen, sir." "Now for the third question," and the captain turned to sailor number three. "What were their names?"

When we left Esther in chapter 4, you will recall that Mordecai had challenged the queen to exercise faith and fulfill her purpose for being raised to this position by going to King Ahasuerus and pleading for the lives of her people. She rose to the challenge, but not before asking the people to pray for her during a three day fast, during which they would neither eat nor drink. She said that she and her personal attendants would do the same.

Up to this point in her life, we can safely assume that Esther had enjoyed relative ease, living a life with the normal challenges of growing up. She was separated from her immediate family somehow, a common occurrence among the Jewish people during these times of conquering. However, things are different now. The Scripture states so clearly that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Many people naturally want to be in positions of influence, and others are effortlessly thrust into such positions by what some see as chance, but we as Christians know there is no such thing as chance. It is an unbiblical word, for what we ignorantly call chance is really God at work behind the scenes. God has brought Esther to the top, but it is a lonely place, a lesson Esther has quickly learned now that she has to put her own life on the line in going to the king. She is afraid for her life, and is not completely sure of what to say if she does win an audience with him.

I think of the countless times throughout our lives, when faced with life’s difficulties that we fear or grow unsure about what to do or how to react. So often there are no clear-cut choices to be made, times when we hesitate or hope the problem will go away. There are times when our challenges threaten our security, or our comfort levels, and we fear making the wrong decision – challenges that some of you face even today. The fact is that what we really want is some guarantee of success before we choose, some sign from heaven telling us that we are headed in the right direction. “Am I marrying the right person?” “Is this the right home to purchase for our family?” “Is this college going to take me where I want to go?” “Do I really want to remarry?” “Should I really take on this new challenge?” “Should I venture into this new business?” “Should I retire now?” “Do I really want to take this gamble with my life’s savings?” “Is this the church God wants me to be a part of?” “Should I go and speak to my boss about this issue?”

You see, in each of these challenging situations and countless others, what we are looking for is some measure of success, some confirmation from God that what we are doing is right. We all want success. No one comes to a problem in life and says, “I hope I fail at this!” But what you have to do is be willing to redefine what success is. For the Christian, success is coming to the end of your life, having fulfilled God’s will for your life. That’s it – nothing more; nothing less. That is what Mordecai told Esther. He said, “You have to do this thing. Who knows whether this is your life’s purpose?” Regardless of the outcome, Esther was fulfilling God’s purpose for her life, and that is success!

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