Lately, I don’t know how to feel. One minute I am full of compassion and want to help those who are suffering. The next minute I find myself in self-protective or self-gratification mode. Should I go to the store and buy food for those in need or should I stay home and protect myself from this dreaded pandemic? Should I send money to help those who have no food, or should I save my $1200 government stimulus check in case this crisis drags on for months? Should I spend money on extra things that bring me comfort, or should I give this away to an organization to feed the hungry children? Do you struggle with these kinds of decisions everyday as you walk through this difficult time?
This morning I told God that I didn’t even know how to pray. As He is sovereign over the affairs of all, should I pray that He supernaturally stop this pandemic NOW? Or do I pray that He will use this to turn the hearts of people around the world to live in more caring, loving, and God-fearing ways? How do I pray for nations where the leaders govern in corrupt evil ways?
This is a complex and confusing time. So what do we do? How do we pray? How do we deal with our conflicting emotions? To be honest, there is not an easy answer to this. However, the Scriptures are full of accounts of people wrestling with these same kinds of emotions and decisions. Think about the crisis that Queen Esther went through. She discovered that the King had listened to his chief advisor to have all the Jews annihilated. When Esther’s uncle challenged her to beg for mercy to the king on behalf of all the Jewish people, she went into self-protective mode. She told her uncle that she would surely be executed since she could only appear before the king if she was invited to do so. Her uncle’s reply: “Do not think that because you are in the kings’ house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12-14).
So the first principle we see regarding how to deal with confusing times of crisis is to seek out wise mentors. Ask those who have a history of making wise godly decisions. Once Esther made the smart move to listen to her uncle’s counsel, her next wise decision was to call the Jewish people to fast and pray for three days before she spoke to the king. It is interesting that when Esther decided to step out in faith in obedience to God’s will, her heart changed from fear to sacrificial courage. She boldly said: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Thus we see, the second principle in how to deal with confusing times: pray and ask others to pray for you as to how to respond (act, think, and behave).
The third principle comes up as Esther courageously steps out in faith to help those in need. She did not act impulsively. In fact, she patiently and carefully acted on behalf of the people. We do not know exactly why she did not tell the king immediately. She wined and dined him twice. He offered her anything she wanted during the first banquet she gave him, but she held back her request. She asked to give him another banquet. Before the second banquet, God orchestrated the king to not be able to sleep and then request to read the chronicles of his reign. Through this he was reminded of a time when Esther’s uncle, Mordecai saved the king from an assassination attempt. During the second banquet, Esther revealed the king’s advisor, Haman’s evil plot to have Mordecai, Esther, and all the Jews killed. With great passion, he had Haman hanged, Mordecai honored, and the Jews protected from being killed. Thus we see the third principle. Step away from your own self-protective or self-gratifying responses and ask God how you can be a servant to others. God may give you ideas of how to encourage others while still staying sheltered at home. He may lead you to leave your home to help another in need. But do this carefully, following the safety measures our health authorities have given us.
Esther is a wonderful example of how to deal with this confusing time in a way that is wise, prayerful, self-sacrificing, and God-honoring. May God lead you with His wisdom out of the darkness of confusion and into the light of His assurance.
Today's Bible Reading: Esther