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Faith's Firm Foundation: Accepting Adverse Circumstances

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Accepting Adverse Circumstances

Rembrandt's Painting of Queen Esther

I've been reading in the Bible from the wonderful book of Esther. Esther was such a good example of someone who had to deal with this principle of accepting your design and was used greatly by God in doing so. We may think, "Oh, sure, she was gorgeous, lived in a palace--what did she have to worry about!" But, every person--Every Person--has something that they have to accept about their circumstances or looks. In Esther's case, it wasn't her looks, but her circumstances that she had to accept.

There are certain "unchangeables" that God has prescribed for each one of us.
Let's take a quick look at the 10 "unchangeables" and see what God prescribed in Esther's life:
1. Parents: She had none; they were both dead; she was raised by an older cousin
2. Time in History: She lived at a time when her country was besieged and her people were taken into captivity and had to live under a ruthless king
3. People Group: Israeli, Jewish, from the lesser tribe of Benjamin
4. Nationality: Jewish (not highly thought of, often despised, even persecuted)
5. Gender: female, at that time in history, and in that place, being a woman was very low, insignificant, powerless
6. Birth Order: There is no report that she had any other siblings
7. Brothers and Sisters: none mentioned
8. Physical Features: She was "fair of form and good of countenance" (beautiful)
9. Mental Abilities: The Bible doesn't make a big statement of her mental abilities. Her strength came in obeying the counsel of her authority, Mordecai, and in her wisdom, not her knowledge or reasoning ability.
10. Aging and Death: She was young, but her life was very much in danger, so she had to accept God's timing on how long she would live and when and how she would die.

Being beautiful doesn't automatically mean that you'll be happy or that life will be a "piece of cake". It wasn't so in Esther's life. God used her gender, nationality, time in history and physical features to place her in the position of being used by Him to save her people. But she had to accept her circumstances and trust God in the midst of them. She didn't know how it would turn out! We don't know how our lives will turn out either. Esther is a wonderful example of sweet, humble acceptance of the place and circumstances God places you in. And she shows us one of the important things we can do when God allows us to be in difficult circumstances. She prayed and fasted. Moreover, she asked others to join her and pray for her! That's a great lesson! We can't always see the big picture of why God made us the way He did, or allows us to be in the circumstances we're in. But He promises (if we're a Christian) to work it out for good and to use it to conform us to His image.
Romans 8:28-29 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." How did Christ respond to His unpleasant circumstances? (With meekness, trust, and love for His enemies) What does the Bible say about His looks? (Isaiah 53:2 "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.") The things that we go through cause His character to be formed in us, when we respond in a Christlike way. But if we fight against His plan, or take ourselves "off the easel" before He's done with the painting, we may miss out on the amazing things He wants to do in and through us.

Regarding trying circumstances, there's something that happens in us when we thank God for them. James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Trials and trying circumstances and people are God's tools to form His character in us, so when we respond in a Christlike way to them, the character of Christ is formed in us. Sometimes we look at what God is doing in us, or how He has made us so far, and we jump off the easel thinking He's not doing a very good job and we could do it better. We must get back up on the easel and let God keep working--we don't see the picture the Master Artist is painting, and we must trust Him. In Esther's life, when she faced very unpleasant (life and death) circumstances, the Bible records these words that her guardian, Mordecai, said to her: "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" And who knows what God will do in and through us when we respond in thanks and trust to His design of our lives.

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