Summary: 6 principles for knowing when to speak up and how to deal with consequences
Sept. 7, 2003 Esther 7
Charlie Brown and one of his friends were discussing the problems of life as they walked down the road. After much discussion, Charlie Brown declared his problem solving philosophy. He said, “There’s no problem so big that I can’t run from it.”
Esther had a big problem. She and her people the Jews were threatened with annihilation. As the queen, she was the only one who was in a position to do anything about it. Twice now, the king had asked her what was troubling her and had declared to her that whatever she needed or wanted would be given to her. And twice now, she had kept her mouth shut about her real need and what she wanted to say. Part of the reason that she had remained silent about her problem was timing. She was waiting for the perfect moment. But another big part of the reason she avoided the issue was because of plain old fear. A third opportunity for her to voice what she really needed to say was now here. Everything within her said, “Be like Charlie Brown. Run away. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t get involved.” And if she had been smart, she probably would have listened to that voice in her head. But there was another voice that was in her head – a voice that she could not ignore, a voice that told her that she had to speak up and do what was right no matter what the consequences were.
Maybe you can identify with Esther. You are a conflict avoider. You have been in situations where you really felt like you needed to say something, but you found yourself struggling with whether or not you should. You saw something going on at work that you suspected was not right. Is it your place to say something? What will the consequences be if you’re wrong? What will the consequences be if you’re right? You heard yelling and screaming from the neighbor’s house. It sounded like the husband was abusing his wife or children, but you didn’t want to make waves for them. After all, how could you be sure of what was going on? Your friend is unsaved. You know it. There is no doubt. You really want to say something to him, but you don’t know if now is the right time. So you keep putting it off, telling yourself that there will be a better time. But what if the perfect moment never comes?
This morning, we’re going to look at Esther’s moment of truth, how she faced it and what the outcome was. After we look at what happened, we’re going to learn 6 principles for knowing when to speak up and how to deal with consequences.
Revealing (vs. 1-6a)
Things had been going pretty rough for Haman. The morning had been spent chauffeuring his enemy around town. When he went home for lunch, instead of getting comfort from his wife, she had prophesied his doom. (Haman’s wife and Job’s wife had a lot in common.) And now, he was at the banquet prepared by Queen Esther. He was probably thinking, “What’s going to go wrong here?” He did his best to relax, but his nerves were still rattled from the events of the day. Just about the time that he was starting to calm down and get his blood pressure back to a reasonable level, the king asked his question of Esther for the 3rd time. [read vs. 1-2]
Xerxes must have been getting frustrated at this point. He knew that something serious was on Esther’s mind, but he couldn’t get her to reveal it. Maybe Xerxes should have tried the method that one father found to be successful.
A very short boy wanted so badly to play basketball. He even told his dad that he wanted to become a pro when he was older. Knowing that his son would never be able to play the game, the dad asked the local coach if there was anything he could recommend to make the boy taller. "You might take him down to the museum and put him on the old torture stretch rack," the coach said. Several weeks later the coach asked the father if putting the boy on the stretch rack had helped. "Well, it didn’t make him any taller, but he confessed to several things that I never knew."
Pain can make you reveal information, and fear can make you conceal it. There was plenty of fear to go around in that place. Esther sat across the table from the two most powerful men in the world. One was her husband. He had a temper, and he had done some pretty rash things in the past because of his temper. The other man was her enemy – the one that had created the problem that she was being asked to reveal. Why did Esther invite Haman to the banquet? Seems that it would be easier to accuse him if he was NOT present. If things went badly and the king did not act favorably toward her, Haman might turn his anger on her. The text doesn’t tell us why she invited him, so all that I can do is offer some suggestions. Maybe she wanted to stare her fears in the face. Maybe she wanted to make sure that when the truth came out, Haman would be in place where he could not escape the wrath of the king. I don’t know why she invited him, but the fact is that he was there, and he was a source of great fear for her.