In 2008, a week before she turned 3, my daughter was a princess for Halloween. Naturally, she was outfitted with sparkly jewels, a crown, and a stunning (albeit a tad overdone) dress. She was ecstatic to be a royal – waving her scepter (or magic wand) all over the place. The line between fairy and princess was delightfully fuzzy in this glorious “little-girly-girl” time.
But there are only a handful of real princesses on earth, right? And when you consider their lives – endless public events, lack of privacy, the potential for constant criticism, paparazzi – would you really want to be one? Me neither.
In the Old Testament, we read of one sovereign who suddenly found herself with tremendous responsibility. And her story is a fascinating one.
When the first wife of the Persian King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) refused one of the king’s outlandish orders, he decided to replace her with a new queen. To do so, he proclaimed a contest akin to today’s TV show ‘The Bachelor,’ in which pretty women were screened, selected, and quarantined together until one was proclaimed the most worthy by the king himself.
Esther won the contest and was crowned. During the process, she kept secret the fact that she was Jewish. Then she learned of King Xerxes’ horrifying decree to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian territories.
The young queen’s heart was filled with fear, but her cousin Mordecai reminded her that by virtue of her crown, she was in a perfect position to act. “Who knows but that it was for a time like this that you obtained the royal dignity?” (Esther 4:14)
The state’s law held that no one – not even the queen – could approach the king unless summoned. But Esther knew she needed to find a way.
Esther sent back to Mordecai the response: “Go and assemble all the Jews who are in Susa; fast on my behalf, all of you, not eating or drinking, night or day, for three days. I and my maids will also fast in the same way. Thus prepared, I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15-15)
While fasting, Esther spent her time deep in prayer. She took her concerns straight to the real Source of Power – straight to the real King. God Almighty.
With all her heart, strength, soul, and mind she praised God for his sovereignty and his goodness to Israel, begged forgiveness for the sins of her people, and asked for divine help, saying, “Be mindful of us, O Lord. Manifest yourself in the time of our distress and give me courage, King of gods and Ruler of every power….Save us from the power of the wicked, and deliver me from my fear.” (Chapter C: 23, 30 NAB)
After the three days, faint with hunger and with full confidence in God’s plan – whatever it might be – Queen Esther approached King Xerxes. When his eyes were opened to the evil he’d decreed, he called off the slaughter and the Jewish people were saved.
Now – what made the difference? Is there one thing that affected God? Was it Esther’s fasting? Was it her prayer?
We’ll never know that. And it’s no use guessing, because we’ve been told (and have witnessed) that His ways are higher than our ways, and we could never get our earthly minds around His process anyway.
But, there is one truth we know – what Esther did was point the way to many others, and together they made the same appeal. Which others? All the Jews in Susa. They also fasted. They also prayed. Esther’s example was crucial, but their faith mattered just as much. Their lives were also made “for a time like this.”
All around the world today, groups of people are threatened. Threatened by violence, hatred, poverty, strife. The list goes on and on. There is nothing new under the sun.
And in our country, groups are singled out by politicians who feed on fear to collect votes. You’ve heard me say before that I am disheartened by this election cycle. I don’t like the choices. At all.
And what’s even more upsetting is that the candidates reflect our nation’s thinking. And the current state of its heart. Which frankly seems cold and hard.
So, as I think about Esther’s story, I would ask you to consider this with me. My birth and your birth – they were not accidents. We were placed here in this time and in this place for a reason. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe!” This is a ‘you’ writ large and small. It is a divine message, carried by the prophet Jeremiah to exiles in Babylon, to nations throughout time, and directly to you individually, reading the words on a screen today. “When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me….you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot.” (Jeremiah 29: 11, 12-14)
It’s easy to throw up our hands and say that the nation’s problems are just too overwhelming, or that others can deal with them. But you and I have been created here and now for a reason. Our voices matter. To God. And perhaps he meant for them to influence the future of our nation.
There are 5 primaries coming up in the next several days and more in the weeks ahead. Would you fast and pray with me for God’s wisdom and guidance before we cast our votes?
Why fast? Because in abstaining from things that we consume without thought, we become more conscious of our actual needs – among them, our need for God. He is the King. He is sovereign. He is the One who actually holds the power over the future of our world, and He wants us to turn to Him so he can comfort us, guide us, and embolden us to proclaim the truth of His love.
I would propose a fast from Facebook and other media. To hear God’s voice we need to quiet. We need to turn off the noise.
I will start Saturday, March 12 and go until Tuesday, March 15. If you can do it for three days, great. If you only have time for one before you go to the polls, then do it for one. But free yourself from the worldly distractions and pray.
It’s true that no fairy princess is going to wave her wand and make everything beautiful overnight.
But it’s also true that there are more than a handful of princesses around. As believers – beloved children of the Lord – the Risen King Jesus Christ – we are princesses and princes. Yes – we are royals. And the head of our royal family wants us to come close.
So let’s do that.
Let’s be like Esther and take our appeals straight to the King.