Monday, April 10, 2017

A Study of the Book of Esther: Week Two, Day Five

Day 5: Mordecai Talks to Esther

     We talked a bit about not being controlled by our feelings last week, but let's face it, we still have them and we will still be outsmarted by them from time to time. And beyond that, God gave us these feelings to feel. They aren't inherently bad. The thing that takes us from fine to not-so-fine is when we just soak in our feelings like they're a hot tub.
     Over the weekend, I went to a writer's conference. One of the speakers was talking about advice to improve your writing career. One of his tips included continual forward movement. He went on to say that he has been in the business for 14+ years. He knows that he isn't supposed to take rejection personally. But it still hurts every single time. And he allows himself to feel those feelings. It's what he does after that which makes all the difference. He feels the feelings and then he makes a plan to move forward.
     And that's exactly where we find ourselves in today's verses. Read Esther 4:1-17. How does Mordecai respond to the news of "all that had been done" (4:1)?

How far did he go (4:2)?

Why did he stop (4:2)?

How did the rest of the Jewish people respond to the news (4:3)?

Reflection: Do you suppose that this would still be the common response to this news today? How would it be different right now?

     I know that everyone would react in the same exact way today. There's no doubt in my mind. But the news and the complaints and the feelings would be splashed all over social media sites. There would be hash tags galore- #notmyking #whyisgodlettingthishappen #allthefeelings.

How did Esther respond to the news of Mordecai's behavior (4:4)?

What else did Esther do in response (4:5-6)?

What is Mordecai's reaction to each of her actions (4:4, 4:7-8)?

     I find it interesting that Esther's first, knee-jerk reaction here is to fix the surface problem. She can imagine her dear cousin, Mordecai, walking around wailing in mourning clothes and she does the super obvious thing- offers him new clothes. But that isn't what Mordecai NEEDS. She is offering a bandaid to cover up a gaping, bleeding wound that needs stitches!
     It's her second reaction that is the better one, though it's definitely the more difficult path to take. She talks through his feelings with him. She begins the painful process of stitching him back together. She comes alongside him and offers to walk this hard path with him.

What response does Esther send back to Mordecai (4:10-12)?

And what does Mordecai tell Esther (4:13-14)?

What decision does Esther reach based on her conversation with Mordecai (4:15-17)?

     Esther struggled with what to do. She had feelings of her own about what was going on and it was tough for her to fight past that fear. What if the king turned her away? What if he had her killed for daring to appear unbidden?
     And now it was Mordecai's turn to reassure Esther. Isn't it wonderful that God gives us people to do life with? Mordecai and Esther were both scared and uncertain about the future. And rather than trying to deal with the proverbial wound on their own, they leaned into each other in that scary time.

Personal Reflection: Who has God placed in your life that you can lean into and count on when things get tough or scary?

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