Read Esther 5, 7-8
As for you, you follow me (John 21:22).
Four days of agony passed. Sleepless nights, a rehearsed request, and now the king sat dining with her, as well as the enemy of the Jews, Haman. Esther could feel her heart pounding throughout her body. Her face pale and mouth dry, she knew she had to speak: “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared…”
“Who would do such a thing?” This was the stunned statement of the king when he heard Esther explain her people’s situation. Previously, when Esther had approached the king’s throne not knowing if she would be killed or not, he had welcomed her. Inviting him and Haman to dinner, she explained the Jews’ future to the king. Outraged that Haman would have the gall to kill the queen’s people, the king immediately had Haman impaled on the pole Haman had intended for Mordecai’s death. Haman’s signet ring was given to Mordecai, and Mordecai became second-in-command. (Talk about irony.) Because the king’s edict could not be revoked, Mordecai created a new one that allowed the Jews to defend themselves on the day that was planned for their slaughter. God used the boldness of Esther and Mordecai to save His people.
We all want a hero—someone to look up to, to admire, to deliver us when life gets uncomfortable. Batman, Thor, Captain America, the Incredibles, Jason Bourne, Catwoman, Superman, the list goes on of the familiar heroes. Who doesn’t have a few problems they wish a masked man with a cape could swoop in and solve?
But these heroes don’t exist. (Sorry, kids.) So how do we handle obstacles? Sometimes we pray and fast, seek wise counsel, and do the best we can at finding an answer for speedy deliverance, but there’s no quick solution. How should we view painful circumstances that plead for a hero? Remember what Mordecai told Esther: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Mordecai’s heroine was Esther. But Esther’s? I think all of us can relate to Esther’s desperation for help in that moment in the palace. Similarly, we analyze the angles and possible solutions that cause us the least discomfort in tough spots. Many times, there is no easy out, and instead what we discover is a call for our faithfulness through pain and uncertainty.
The heroes of today aren’t wearing capes and masks. They are those who demonstrate faithfulness in adversity. It’s the guy who chooses kindness over a response in anger to the rude family member. It’s the busy mom who makes her home into a welcoming haven for friends and strangers alike. It’s the computer whiz who volunteers with local non-profits. Our decisions of how we live today have tremendous power to bring life or pain to those around us. When we stick to the definition of a hero as one who receives popular recognition and fame, we miss the impactful stories of many faithful people.
Part of the beauty of God is that He’s chosen each of His children to have a different background, personality, and story. He’s woven our stories together, each a stretch of thread in the tapestry of history, joined together with those before and after us. We each receive the gift of a different platform, a unique part of the same big story. And maybe, just maybe, being a hero is measured by faithfulness on that platform. It’s showing up day after day, willing to serve, love, give, and seek the needs of others. If your eyes are fixed on earthly awards and trophies, the fancy title and biggest office, on more social media followers, or on doing anything to distance yourself from the pain of the present, ask the LORD to help shift your focus.
In the last chapter of John, Jesus predicts how Peter will die. Immediately after this prediction, Peter becomes curious about what will happen to John. Jesus’ response to Peter is one we can all learn from: “If I want [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me” (John 21:22). The lesson: You are called to remain faithful in following Christ, regardless of God’s path for someone else. Christ’s directive “You follow me” is simple, but it’s certainly not easy. But we can be assured it is possible since Jesus asks it of all of us. Take insight from Peter’s lesson. Where does our focus need to shift from “What about him?” to “You follow me”? Our Lord does not demand impossible tasks of us. He empowers us with His strength and places us each on unique platforms with the desire for us to experience the joy of desperate dependence on Him. Just as God gave Esther courage to take a difficult step to speak up, He can use and equip you in unexpected ways. What conversational steps is He leading you to have?