by César De León PhD LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference
Sheila Frederick, a flight attendant with Alaska Airlines, noticed that there was a girl seated next to a well-dressed, older man. In comparison to him, she looked disheveled, scared and just didn’t look right. So, while passing along flight beverages, she found an opportunity to whisper in the young girl’s ear to go to the bathroom, where she had left a note. In the note, Sheila asked the girl if she was ok. She responded, “I need help”. Sheila immediately notified the pilot who arranged to have police waiting for this man once the plane landed. The girl was found to be a victim of human trafficking.
It only takes a moment to realize that things are not ok in our world today. The political environment of our country has become an open circus where deception, suspicion and a myriad of conspiracy theories are at the center of so many of our current thoughts and conversations. The exposed, long-standing systemic racism in our country, along with the social and ethical divisiveness that is plaguing our society has brought a tremendous sense of unrest and insecurity to many.
This pandemic has taught us that we can somehow survive disconnected from one another; we can apparently survive on our own. Church leaders are already worried about the hard time they are going to have getting members to return to their places of worship. We just aren’t processing things the same way we did before Covid-19 interrupted our lives. The wave of uncertainty and the generalized fear and insecurity continues to roll over our lives as so many continue to lose jobs, homes, savings, relatives. Many continue to wonder if anybody cares.
This might be a little like what the Jewish community might have been thinking when King Xerxes signed the order that all the Jews in the Persian kingdom would be killed. We can’t fathom the horror that parents might have felt as they imagined their entire families wiped out. Mothers crying over their innocent and totality vulnerable children, all victims of the jealousy and obsessive hatred of a madman, the second in command in the kingdom.
Does anybody care? Is there anyone watching? Like the little girl sitting in that Alaska airliner, fearful and wondering about her fate and future, many are asking the same questions today. Then, when everything seems to be lost and the future hopeless, out of the blue we read the words of Esther 6:1: “That night the king could not sleep.”
A series of concurrences had to take place that night. First, the king could not fall asleep. God needed the king awake. Sometimes when you can’t fall asleep, it could be that God needs you awake.
Here is the context of this text:
1. Haman has convinced the king that the Jewish people must be annihilated from the Persian kingdom and has already convinced the king to sign a Persian law to destroy the Jewish community.
2. Haman has prepared the gallows to annihilate Mordecai.
3. Esther prepares to intervene and asks her Uncle Mordecai to ask the people to pray and fast for three days and nights.
4. Esther invites King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) to a banquet.
That same night; that is, the night before the banquet, the king loses his sleep. . . “That night the king could not sleep; so, he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.
“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.
4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.
5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”
“Bring him in,” the king ordered.
6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Now Haman thought to himself, “There is no one else that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”
10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”
Can you imagine Haman’s dropped jaw and shocked expression as the color drained from his face? Drowning in emotional disorientation, he must have wondered how in the world Mordecai’s name got into this conversation. The king must be asleep, tired or dreaming!
Haman knew at that moment that he was in deep trouble. Mordecai is suddenly a national hero, he is a man honored by the king, he’s a Jew and . . . a member of the ethnic group he is trying to annihilate.
11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” (Esther 6:1-11 NIV).
God will use a series seemingly inconsequential situations—”coincidences”—to master and convert the direction of evil plans for your life and ultimately save your life.
It so happens that the king loses his sleep. It so happens that the king doesn’t turn the TV on to catch a game or go to the kitchen to have a snack. It just so happens that the king requests to read the annals of the history of his empire, (laws and procedures and legal decisions carried out in official courts and meetings of the king). It just so happens that the king’s assistants “choose”to read—from all the possible stories in that huge volume –the story of the king’s liberation by Mordecai. It just so happens that this particular sleepless night, the King gets curious about what type of reward was given to Mordecai for his honorable act. It just so happens that Haman “randomly” comes to visit the king late at night and because he is so diabolically consumed with killing Mordecai, he cannot wait until morning to see his King.
Not so random circumstances that add up one after the other, to protect God’s children and put the devil in check.
Does anybody care? You may be asking in the midst of all the social injustice, restlessness and suffering. The God in heaven responds with a short Bible story about an uncle, Mordecai, and his niece Esther and shows us how He is able to bring salvation and liberation through the modest movements of insignificant “coincidences” to show you that He is in control.
He does care. He is watching. He will bring deliverance to His children in due time. David was so convinced of this reality that he wrote:
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call! (Sal. Ps.20:1-9 NIV)
Friends, God is still in control!