Scripture

Esther 4:1-8

4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Reflection

Lament is a good and proper expression of faith. The book of Psalms is our prayer book in the middle of the Bible and it’s full of prayers of lament. Passionately crying out to God in grief and sorrow is a fundamental aspect of our walk with the Lord. It’s a way we prayerfully acknowledge the world is not alright right now. The earth is not as God intended it to be. Our own lives, even, may not be in line with the best that God has for us. Truth and justice don’t always prevail. One such Psalm of lament says, “Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God”(Psalm 43:1-4). 

God is big enough for our unfiltered honesty. Mordecai is desperate for the Lord in the face of horrific news. His intense sorrow and repentance is expressed by wearing sackcloth and ashes. As the news spread, Jews throughout the nation joined Mordecai in solidarity sitting in ashes and mourning what is to come. They desperately cry out to God. “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18). Are you truly honest with God in your prayer life? Do you allow your circumstances to determine when you need God? Are you desperate for God in the joy and the pain, the sun and the rain?     

Prayer

Heavenly Father, though sorrow and trouble come our way, though we endure the sting of failure and defeat, though we spend years waiting for a breakthrough, it is only a night. Joy comes in the morning. Your light breaks through the darkness and we are made new. Thank you Jesus. Your love never fails. Help us to love each other as you have loved us. May the works of our hands make mercy and justice and words of our mouths speak grace and truth. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory before all ages, now, and forevermore. Amen