Lately, it seems as if life has been one endless stream of rapid change. We all experience change in life, but somehow that doesn’t seem to make it easier. Somehow, no matter how many changes, or different seasons we experience in our lives, and no matter how successfully we prevail through them, most of us still resist change. We become reliant on the expected, or the “normal.” The thought of launching into the unknown can produce discomfort, fear, or even all-out panic.
I understand this feeling well. I’ve experienced quite a few big life-changing moments or seasons in my own life. In fact, I’ve probably experienced more than most people my age. Marriage, child-rearing, unexpected life-altering health conditions, loss of a spouse. Each one of these brought challenges my way. Yet when I look back at my life, it’s easy to see that God not only sheltered and cared for me but gave me hope and purpose through it all.
Tragedy or adversity brings a lot of very unexpected and difficult changes. When these situations inevitably come in our own lives, we have no choice but to find our way through the change it brings. We adapt and we survive. But it’s much harder to live in someone else’s “tragedy.” Feeling someone else’s pain is just too difficult. We often feel like we can’t really make a significant difference in someone else’s problem. So, we move on.
I had a moment recently where I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by the situation in Ukraine and the many challenges we face ministering under these circumstances. These challenges have brought more change in five months than in the last five years. I must confess that for a moment, I felt completely unqualified for the task. No amount of experience or training could have prepared me to navigate a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude.
Then God reminded me of the story of Esther. When Esther was chosen by King Ahasuerus, she must have felt completely overwhelmed by such a massive change in her life. This simple, orphaned Jewish girl became the Queen of Persia! How unprepared and lonely she must have felt. However privileged her new position was, her true mission was not simply to live a new life as queen. It was to approach her formidable husband, the King, to petition for the lives of her people. That was no simple mission. Esther knew the danger. She knew that the king could order her death just because she walked into the room uninvited.
Esther never asked to be a hero to her people. She was scared and probably felt unqualified for the task. She might have felt like she would never succeed at such an important task or that there was no way for her to make a difference.
Esther could have refused. After all, she had already endured much and now she was being asked to risk her own life for the salvation of others. Surely it was someone else’s problem to solve. But she thought carefully, and after some wise advice from Mordecai, her final answer was this. “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (ESV)
Fundamentally, it wasn’t Esther’s beauty, her position, or her political savvy that saved the Jewish people from the scheming of Haman, though Esther possessed all of those. The only real qualification God needed was willingness and resolve. It was willingness and resolve that pushed Esther to risk everything and take action. Because of that, God used Esther to save her people from destruction.
I’ve also been thinking about our overseas partners. We have worked side-by-side with many incredible leaders, meeting humanitarian and spiritual needs. I’ve had several opportunities to talk to them personally. I know they feel unqualified and unprepared for serving the massive needs all around them all while living through a war themselves. How could they not? Millions of lives are in ruins while resources are stretched thinner than ever.
What I have discovered is, like Esther, they are simply willing to do whatever it takes to help people. They are saving people from annihilation, not with weapons of war, but with their love and their care. They are willing to serve at great personal cost to themselves. I am humbled by how God is using each of them to demonstrate His grace, His love, and His truth.
As my mind returns to my own challenges, I realize that they are so small compared to those in Ukraine. God doesn’t need or expect me to have all the answers. What He does want is for me to trust, to choose to be willing, to step out in faith, and to act on behalf of others. I think that it is at the moment of surrender that God can truly begin to work miracles through our lives.
As I think about the example of Esther, or our faithful partners in Ukraine, I realize that unqualified does not mean futile. It is only unwillingness that causes us to miss out. When we allow our feelings of inadequacy to define our decisions, we lose out on the miraculous things God wants to do through us. Like Mordecai says to Esther in Chapter 4, verse 13. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
So here I am ready and willing. I will help our partners continue to be filled with God’s abundant grace. I will work by their side sharing God’s love with desperate people. I may be unqualified, but God is not. I won’t distance myself from the tragedy of others because I know that God can do miraculous things through my willing heart just as He did for a simple Jewish girl named Esther.
To read some special stories about some of the miraculous things God has been doing through MPI in the last five months, just click on the link below. May it encourage you to be like Esther and step out in faith, and act on behalf of others.