By Jennifer Maggio, Crosswalk.com
Esther 4:13-16 says, “Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: ‘Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?’ Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai, ‘Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
We love a feel-good, rags-to-riches story with a powerful, faith-filled, female lead, don’t we, moms? We love Esther’s story, because it not only highlights the sovereignty and provision of the Lord, but His willingness to use women for His work. We love a good ending. We love to see how the story all worked out in the end. But the Lord has told me to tell some of you that there is a middle to the story, and the middle of the story doesn’t always look good. But it doesn’t mean that the end of the story is not coming.
MY MIDDLE // When I was 19 years old, pregnant for the 4th time outside of marriage, living on food stamps and welfare in the projects, do you think I had any idea that my story would end up well? When I was being beaten and sexually assaulted and raising those kiddos alone, there was nothing in the middle of my story that provided evidence that that chapter of my life was going to end well.
But God is in the miracle-making business. He is in the restoring business. He is in the redeeming business. He is in the beauty-for-ashes business. He is in the mountain-moving business. You need to know tonight that your God is working things out on your behalf. But you also need to know that He requires your participation. Esther had to do some things in order to save her people. And so do you.
While there is much to learn from the story of Esther, I want to give you some key things that the Lord showed me about this story and what I believe to be a word for you in this hour. We are in the war of our lives and God has called you for such a time as this. He is calling troops to the battle field. But in order to be successful there are some things you need to know:
Fear must fall. In order to win this war, fear must fall. It must fall in your Heart, Prayer Life, and Home. You cannot cower in a corner. Be strong and courageous in this hour. Do not be immobilized by fear. Do not be shaken or moved by what you see around you. You must move past your fear. Esther knew approaching the king without invitation could result in her execution. But the success of saving her people could not be possible without pushing past her fear.
Nothing God has called you to will be easy. Satan will not sit idly by for you to fight for your family, for you to establish a strong financial future for your grandchildren, for you to take territory for the Kingdom! Do you think that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and approached the Red Sea that fear wasn’t present? Of course, it was! But Moses had to cast it down. What fear in your life is holding you back? Do you suffer from a fear of man? Do you fear your future? The Lord is calling you out of fear today. If God is for you, who can be against you? Whom shall you fear? Some of you need to make the hard, but necessary decision to let fear fall today.
Your voice saves lives. What did Mordecai tell Esther before she approached the King? He said, “Don’t you think for a moment just because you are in the palace you are going to escape this persecution?” You have been called, moms. In this moment, you cannot sit silently, when the world attempts to adjust truth to fit a narrative. It is the truth that sets people free. Your children need to know the Word of the Lord. They need to know that as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord. Don’t you think for a moment that the lies of the enemy aren’t coming to your palace. We’ve got to have some moms with some backbone. We’ve got to have some moms that will take their place. Joshua did not know that the walls of Jericho were going to fall, but when the people used their voices and shouted, the walls came down. There need to be some mama bears that are willing to stand for the Truth of God, the Word of God, and the things of God. This is critical to your success.
Sacrifice will be necessary. Esther knew that she was sacrificing her safety for her people. But she also ordered Mordecai and the Jewish people to pray and fast. Honoring the Lord will require sacrifice. It’s a temporary sacrifice to lay down sin in order to reap a full reward. In the moment, it can feel impossible to lay down something that doesn’t honor God. It could’ve developed a stronghold in your life. It will be a sacrifice to tell the guy no when he asks you for a date and you haven’t been out in a while. It will be a sacrifice to cut ties from the friend group that doesn’t edify you. It’s a sacrifice to adhere to your spiritual disciplines, when you are a tired single momma. It’s a sacrifice to plant in a local house of God. It is a sacrifice to read the Word on a busy day, to set yourself apart when culture is pressing you to raise your children differently. But the sacrifice will be worth it. Don’t you think that when Esther laid her head down on the day that her people were saved that she celebrated that every sacrifice was worth it?
Come with a strategy. Immediately when Esther decided to approach the king, she came before him, then she planned a banquet. And then, she planned a second banquet. She had a strategy. The devil doesn't come meek and confused. He doesn’t come tired and afraid. He comes with a strategy, a plan that will be effective to take down your life. He was working through Haman to kill the Jewish people. He is seeking to kill, steal, and destroy in your life, today, as well. He is coming to kill your parenting confidence, to steal your joy, and to destroy your hope.
Do not come to the fight emotional, ill-equipped, or lacking strategy. Evaluate what tactics he may have used in the past that may have been effective in your life. Have there been times, when you were caught off guard by the enemy and responded in a way that didn’t honor God? Got caught up in a situation? Be prepared with strategies. Where do we get our strategies? From the Holy Spirit! We serve a God who speaks. He is alive, leading His people. The Spirit guides, leads, and directs. Learn to hear the instruction of the Lord. Wait upon the Lord. Then, do what he asks of you.
Be ready. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us we are fighting a war, not against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. If you want to be victorious in the war at hand, it’s time to suit up. It’s time to put on the full armor of God. It’s time to know your authority and it’s time to walk in your authority. You need to know what authority you have, what is true about the situation, and the strategies necessary for this war. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you.
And don’t get sucker-punched in the face, because you weren’t ready. Don’t come to the things of God flippantly another moment. Get serious about your walk with the Lord. Why are we limping around weak and barely making it, feeling overwhelmed or anxious or fearful or exhausted or furious? Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray with the power of the Holy Spirit. Operate with the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the spirit. Pray with reverence and awe and expectation and confidence and courage. The power of the Spirit of God will rise up on the inside of you, such that you can't contain it. No weapon formed prospers. Demons will flee at the name of Jesus. When you are prayed up, the will tremble when your feet hit the ground. No power in Hell can stand against the power of Jesus, so know what authority you walk in. Queen Esther came boldly before the King. Are you coming boldly before the King, taking your rightful place?
What is your for-such-a-time-as-this moment? What has God called your hands to? Whose life can you change? How can you step into your calling? What have you been anointed to do? And what is holding you back?
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.