as it happened

I was reading the story of Esther last week and about wicked Haman and his hatred for Mordecai and all Jews in general. He had no idea that the King’s beloved Esther was a Jew. I’ve read this story dozens of times, yet something new stood out to me this time.

Haman wasn’t motivated by a love for the king, or loyalty to the throne or even by service of any kind. He wasn’t even concerned for the king’s well-being. He was motivated by his love of himself. “It” was all about Haman. He was working himself up in the ranks to get as high as possible on the status ladder and annihilate anyone that might get in his way. He wanted power, prestige, respect. He wanted to be feared. He was selfish, hateful, jealous and ambitious. UGLY.

I’ve always loved the part of the story where Mordecai tells his niece, Esther, that she needs to be courageous and risk her life for the lives of the Jews all over the kingdom because of Haman’s plan to murder the Jews. He tells her, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:4)

Esther goes before the king and he extends his scepter, meaning he’ll see her (and not kill her) and asks her what it is that she wants. She has a plan and invites her king and Haman to dinner that night. Haman thinks he’s really something. He brags to everyone about how he has been invited to dine with the king and queen! (He should have been asking himself why!)

As I was reading the story this time, I specifically noticed how God orchestrated things. His timing is breath-taking!

That night. . . That night after dinner with Esther, the night Haman was unable to fully appreciate his amazingly blessed life because of his raging hatred of Mordecai, that night the king had trouble sleeping.

God made the king sleepless. Either it was the king’s habit to have his attendant read to him from the book of history on nights like that, or maybe God gave him that idea right then, but either way, that’s what happened. Even the specific passage that was read to the king was significant, hand picked by God for King Xerxes! It was no coincidence.

The king learns, during his sleepless night, that Mordecai had saved the king’s life by exposing an assassination attempt. Xerxes asks his servant if anything has been done to honor Mordecai.  Nothing had been done. So Xerxes and the attendant begin talking about what should be done to thank Mordecai.

Of course you know the story, but what stood out to me this time is these three words:   “as it happened.”

There are no coincidences with God.  ‘As it happened,’ is really a way of saying, the joke was on Haman. It was no coincidence. You could move the ‘as’ to the end and say, “it happened as.” You see, it happened as God orchestrated! Wickedness was not going to prevail. It wasn’t going to have the final say.

God had had enough of Haman’s wicked schemes and arrogance. He orchestrated that Haman would humiliate himself – that he would walk in just in time for the king to ask him, “What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?”

Prideful, self-centered, conceited Haman wonders who the king would honor more than him, so he goes the whole nine yards.  He should wear the royal robe and ride a horse the king himself has ridden which had a royal emblem on its head, and be led by a noble official announcing, “This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!”

How Haman’s skin must have tingled with delight at the thought of being that man! Oh how it must have crawled with horror, shame, and disgust when he learned that it was Mordecai the king wanted to honor and that he himself was the noble official who had to lead Mordecai and proclaim the king’s favor! Insult on top of injury! (Oh, if only this kind of justice happened every time people were contriving nasty schemes!) At least that night Haman could look forward to dinner with King Xerxes and the beautiful Queen Esther again. No one else got invited to dine with them two nights in a row! He was still truly something (in his own mind).

After dinner the second night, Esther reveals the evil plan Haman had devised to slaughter and annihilate the Jewish people all over the land. The king is infuriated, and rushes out in a rage to the palace garden.  When he returns he finds Haman begging Esther for mercy, (oh the irony), falling on the couch with the queen. “Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?”

“And as soon as the king spoke, his attendants covered Haman’s face, signaling his doom.” (Esther 7:8)

Wow, that’s powerful!

Psalm 36:1-4 describes people like Haman. “Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.”

But the rest of Psalm 36 describes God! “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if justice, like that which was served to Haman, was meted out as quickly in our own lives? Wouldn’t it be great to see those people who behave like Haman ‘get what’s coming to them?’

So often it feels like God doesn’t see the evil schemes of others. It feels as if God is looking the other way. But we shouldn’t be fooled by the length of time it takes for God to bring about an ‘as it happened’ for us. God sees all things. He knows the contents of every person’s heart.

The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger and that fact often frustrates me when I’ve wanted him to shoot down a bolt of lightning and fry someone who hurt me really badly! But then when I think of myself and my imperfections and sin, I don’t want justice for myself! I want mercy! (Ouch, just like Haman! He cooked up a wicked scheme and when he was about to fall in his own pot, started pleading for mercy. Of course I was thinking as I read that, “No way! Haman, you deserve to die!”)

Am I ever glad God is patient and long-suffering with me. As I focus on loving God and others better, I can be assured that God will take care of the Hamans in my life in his own time, in his own way. Someday, the rest of my story will begin with, “As it happened,” which you and I will both know really means, “it happened as . . .”

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4 Responses to “as it happened”

  1. Barb Glover Barney Says:

    As God always leads me in His perfect time, He lead me to this today….it was so reassuring to contemplate and receive His Word through you…I needed this and I thank you for being Holy Spirit filled and lead…today He used you to help me. I just wanted you to know. ❤

  2. Stephanie McConachie Says:

    After all the things I’ve gotten wrong in my attempts to do what is right, it’s getting much harder for me to sit in judgemement on others.
    I’ve had to live on both sides of the fence and both are very painful. So, I I’m praying God will continue to teach me more about true love, forgiveness and grace.
    I saw what you were talking about too the last time I read Esther. The favor that Esther had with the king has been hard for me to learn, but I’m hoping God will continue to teach me and grow me!

  3. angie williams Says:

    Could you please write a book for “adults” someday? Maybe a
    devotional? Yes…yes! maybe a devotional. : )
    Again, i did not want this to end.

    i love you.

  4. Nicolette Says:

    Oh, Kris, this was so well written. Bravo. I love your tight ending. What’s coming to mind is the little word picture reminder to kids… “Just remember, when you’re pointing one finger at someone, four are pointing back at you…’

    “Am I ever glad God is patient and long-suffering with me” AMEN. Me, too. Love you…

    Someday, the rest of MY story will begin with, “As it happened…”

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