Thursday, December 22, 2011

Taking the Bible Stories--Literally

I know we Catholics aren't involved in the debate "is the Bible literally true", yet the deeper I grow in Faith, the more I drink in Holy Scripture, the more I start to see these fantastic "tales" I grew up with as a Protestant start to factually happen in my own life.

Hammond & Queen Ester

If you haven't yet read the book of Ester yet, take a few minutes soon to check it out. After the Jews got kicked out of Jerusalem, some were taken to the Mesopotamia. A beautiful Jewish girl was kidnapped by the King and forced to endure a year long "beauty pageant" to win the heart of the king. Ester is so NOT into this early version of the Bachelor but guess who ends up being chosen to become Queen?

One of the king's henchmen, named Hammond, hates the Jews and comes up with a tricky plot to make sure that all the Jewish people are massacred on the same day. Ester's uncle comes to her and tells her that she must act to save her people. "God has placed you on the throne for this purpose," he says.

Queen Ester risks death to save the Jewish people. The Jews are saved and in a very specific "tables are turned" event, Hammond is hung on the same gallows he built to kill Queen Ester's uncle.

Fast forward thousand and thousands of years to September 2009. My husband and I are sitting in his childhood living room in Upstate New York waiting to bury his father.

Jon's father had cancer, and died very suddenly 12 weeks after his first diagnosis. We got the unexpected news on a Saturday, left a hurried message on voice mail at Jon's work and frantically drove 12 hours to reach his hometown. On Monday, my husband spoke to his immediate superior (hereafter "Hammond") and was told "don't worry about missing work for your father's funeral. Take all week to stay there and help take care of your mother."

On Wednesday, Jon called to check in at work and got horrifying news. The main boss and all of his co-workers had no idea where he'd been for the past 48 hours. "Hammond" had refused to pass on any messages from Jon and had "allegedly" walked around the office saying "Where is Jon? This is so not like him to just disappear on us!"

My husband was horrified. We knew "Hammond" had been gunning for a replacement for Jon for sometime, but how could we have predicted this? It felt so awful to be both dressed in black, grieving the sudden death of a Father, and now have the possibility that Jon might be fired from his job solely because he tried to attend his father's funeral.

My husband's face was totally white. "What do we do?" he asked me. "Should we run home today?"

In this rare moment of clarity, I thought of the Bible Story of Queen Ester. "No", I said. "We're here. We are going to bury your father tomorrow. We're going to trust God to protect your job."

We got through that horrible week and Jon still had a job when we came home to Washington D.C.

One year later, Jon came home and told me that "Hammond" had been fired as a result of a really crazy situation. Hammond had tried to keep her firing secret from Jon for almost 3 months, but it all came out into to light. We were just stunned. It was such an obvious work of God.

Jon now has a new supervisor. While his workplace is not perfect, it's many, many times better.

Our God is trustworthy. Even when it seems like Evil has the upper hand, God will never ever abandon his people. I watched that video of the Maccabeats sing "the Purim" song (which is the traditional festival celebrating Queen Ester) with tears in my eyes this week. That story means so much to my heart.


  1. I love the story of Esther. It's one of my favorites.

    I love the line:
    "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

    I love that it reminds us that God's will will be done regardless of our assent; but that we do have a choice to participate in the divine plan and that God does put us into particular situations for particular reasons.

  2. We had a somewhat similar situation this past summer with my husband's job. Unfortunately neither he or I were quite as calm and trusting as you were. I know I railed, demanding God why was this happening to my husband, a good man who did everything right. My husband became depressed. We worked through everything and it seemed okay. Now another situation arose this month and it is so obviously CLEAR to both of us how even when we weren't as faithful to God and his plan as we should have been that he was still keeping us in the palm of his hand and protecting us. Had we not gone through what we had this summer, we would have ended up in a much worse situation. We have talked about it and can really see so much more clearly now that we need to trust Him more, that our agony and despair was entirely self-inflicted and unneccessary. It was definitely a lesson to be learned. Whenever we do find ourselves in a critical situation (and I am sure we will again someday), I pray that we can remember this and be calm and trusting in God. His ways aren't always clear to us but I think if you trust God you can have peace and not cause yourself such turmoil and angst.

  3. Melanie, I so LOVE that line too. Like "we Jews are going to be okay nevertheless but what about you? How are things going to go for you if you DON'T step up to face this crisis. Don't think that your royal crown will shield you!"

    Heidi--Praise God for his patience with slow learners! My Jon and I are falling down almost daily on that trust issue also. :-)