Recently, I have been studying Esther and Joseph in the Bible. And only now I realize how crazy their lives were.
Both people were used by God in profound ways, but their lives were not bliss. They suffered lots. They were disappointed lots. They had to muster up courage lots. They were expected to be brave lots. The unexpected happened to them lots. In fact, enduring the unpredictable and the unfair became their routines.
Each page in both their stories is intense and hard to comprehend because the events that took place in their lives are so extremely foreign to us. It is highly doubtful that any one of us will spend over 12 years in jail for an unjust reason. Or one day be told that people are plotting to assassinate our spouse. Or that a group of people dislike us so much that we’re sold into slavery by them. Or that it is up to us to plead with a higher power to save the lives of thousands of people, while risking our own lives by doing so.
But something that we can learn from Esther and Joseph’s stories is that a moment of God’s favour and help can change everything in our lives in an instant. And that God’s timing is perfect, that he always has a plan, that he is always in the business of growing us, and that he is capable of redeeming every broken thing in our lives.
Joseph and Esther both have three things in common. They were pulled out of their comfort zones in drastic ways, they were petrified, and they were faithful nonetheless.
They suffered differently, but decided to listen and obey, even when their lives turned a 180 in the most undesirable directions. And we learn at the end of their stories that the uncomfortable situations that God had them in were not wasted. In fact, God used their experiences ten-fold.
For Joseph, he went from being a prideful child, to a long-term prisoner, to the right hand of Pharaoh. Each of these transition periods happened in an instant, and the duration of each period lasted a long time. And what is so crazy cool about seeing the beginning of his story to the end is that it is evident God’s hand and provision was in all of it. Especially in the jail cell. It makes sense to think that everything Joseph learned in prison was put into action when he was given full control of Egypt, from the skills he learned as the overseer, to living out patience, and to coming to a place where he could finally forgive his brothers for what they had done to him, when he was given the opportunity to in Egypt.
Young Esther went from living an ordinary life under her cousin’s wing, to being brought before the king as a candidate to be his wife, to boldly saving her people at the risk of perishing. God grew her in confidence, in perseverance, and in hope by the time he had her do the unthinkable.
What is so amazing to me is that these two people would not have ever imagined experiencing what they ended up experiencing and taking part in. They had no warning. All they had control over was how they chose to respond to the unexpected struggle they faced. And as we see at the end of their stories, God took care of everything else and orchestrated it all so precisely. Joseph and Esther lived with open hands, and God, in return, grew their character and was their security and friend through the calm and through the storm.
I think that all that God wants from us right now is to live in accordance with our faith and our mission.
To mirror his character as best we can.
To remember that he wants to make us more like him every day.
To take seriously the life he has given us and to see it as a gift.
To embrace a spirit of genuine thankfulness and contentment no matter what.
To expect nothing and to appreciate everything.
To live with a teachable heart.
To remember that we are not here to live under an umbrella, but to be his ambassador, his hands and feet, and his friend.
And lastly, to expect that he is going to use us, and that he has already been using us.
Friends, with God on our side, our lives are more purposeful than we could ever imagine. We need only be available, know our identity in him, and know that the suffering we have experienced and will experience is a precious page in our stories that God will use.
As Bob Goff says, “God doesn’t owe us an explanation every time He does something we don’t understand yet.” He also says, “God often uses the least qualified, most available people to get things done.”
Thank you for reading, friend. I hope you feel encouraged to read Esther and Joseph!