For Such a Time as This: Female Heroes of the Faith
- Friday, September 24, 2010
"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).
There is nothing sadder than someone who leads a seemingly purposeless existence. I say "seemingly" because we all have a purpose—each and every one of us, regardless of our station or circumstances in life—but many of us never fulfill that purpose, whether out of fear, unbelief, or just plain rebellion. For you see, that purpose is God-given, and it is always bigger than anything we can do or accomplish on our own. As a result, we may avoid our God-given purpose because we are fearful of the results; we may reject our God-given purpose because we don't believe in God or that He has a purpose for us; or we may reject our God-given purpose because we prefer to do our own thing, rather than God's.
Whatever the reason, to miss our purpose is the saddest waste of life imaginable, and it explains the phenomenal response to Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life book, which released a few years ago. We all sense that we have a purpose, but so many of us never even discover what that purpose is, let alone fulfill it.
Esther was a beautiful young Jewish girl living in a difficult time and under an unfriendly, foreign government. She had no say in the matter when she was conscripted into the king's harem. But she soon settled in and began to live a pampered life, much easier than the one she might have experienced had she not been chosen to fulfill that position.
Then one day her uncle Mordecai, who had raised her, came to her and told her of a plot to kill the Jewish people. He urged her to intervene with the king to try to save them, but she was understandably afraid, since approaching the king uninvited was forbidden and could result in death. But Mordecai encouraged her with these words: "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther took those words to heart, agreeing to go to the king on behalf of her people. "If I perish, I perish," she declared. She had come to a point of understanding that if God's purpose for her was to intervene with the king, then that was all that mattered, regardless of the outcome. As a result, she became one of those rare people whose actions not only saved an entire nation but changed the course of history.
Esther wasn't the only woman who made such a difference. Rosa Parks is remembered as the "first lady of civil rights" because one day in 1955 she dared to refuse an order to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. Although widely honored for her actions today, at the time she took a huge chance and paid a big price, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. But she accomplished her God-given purpose, fulfilling God's call on her life "for such a time as this." As a result, history was changed.
Joan of Arc is another such history-changing woman. Now considered a saint to some and a heroine to others, she was not so well received during her lifetime. In fact, Esther's words, "if I perish, I perish," came to pass in this French woman's life. A simple peasant girl who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, paving the way for the coronation of Charles VII. And yet she was burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of nineteen.
Valeria was yet another young woman who very well may have changed the course of history. The only child of Roman Emperor Diocletian, a notorious persecutor of Christians in the third century, Valeria was rumored to have become a Christian, along with her mother, Prisca. She was eventually forced into a dreadful marriage with a horrible Roman general named Galerius, but her faithful prayers and witness led the man to receive Christ on his death bed. It was the beginning of the end of the persecution that had plagued Christians during that era, and eventually turned Rome to becoming a Christian nation, though perhaps in name only.
Finally, there is a lovely and brave Chinese woman named Li Ying, who even now suffers in prison, serving a ten-year sentence for distributing Christian materials and proselytizing children, both illegal in Communist China. But Li Ying loves Zhu Yesu (Jesus Christ) and is determined to fulfill His purpose for her life, even in prison. Her bravery and steadfast determination to proclaim Christ's love, regardless of the circumstances or repercussions, have made her my modern-day heroine, and I pray for her daily.
Most of us will never face such life-and-death decisions or choices when it comes to fulfilling the purpose God has ordained for us, but each of us will surely have to make that call at some point. Will we shrink back out of fear or unbelief or even rebellion? Or will we, like Esther and Joan and Rosa and Li Ying, be found faithful because we realize we have come into the kingdom "for such a time as this"?
***Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is a radio host and an award-winning author of more than thirty books, including Valeria's Cross (the story of Emperor Diocletian's daughter) from Abingdon Press and Red Ink (a fictionalized account of Li Ying's life in China) from New Hope Publishers. She and her husband, Al, live in Southern California, where the two of them spend their time riding Al's Harley—hence, Kathi' "road name" of Easy Writer!
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