Such a Time…
I love my wife Monica. With every fiber of my being I love her. I love her without reservation and unconditionally. This is a love now eternal from which I will not be dissuaded. It started with interest, grew into infatuation, then admiration became deep abiding love. Now at the confluence of it all it is a loving trust, a sweet charity, the love of Christ that I feel now and always.
I admire no woman more than I admire my dearest Monica. She has been a woman of intense courage and loyalty beyond the bounds that nation’s have set. I do not know all she will yet accomplish in her endurance of trials and her fidelity to truth, but what I have observed demands my utmost respect and loyalty. This follower of Jesus Christ is faithful in her desire and exact in her commitment. I have seen her place her life on the altar of sacrifice and peril so many times that I have no doubt in her fidelity to God, her family, or her people. She has endured much more than I need ever speak, but she has borne it well and with my unending admiration. In ceaseless ways her love has rescued me.
My heart goes out in great admiration to a like servant of the Lord who rescued her loved ones, Esther of the Old Testament.
We do not know all the circumstances, but what we do know is that she lost her parents in her childhood or youth, and because her parents were dead, her uncle Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter [Esther 2:7]. During the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), a king who ruled a vast territory from India to Ethiopia, Mordecai and Esther became an integral part of the history of this Persian king and the people of Israel.
King Ahasuerus had a queen Vashti, who embarrassed him by refusing to attend a party where he wanted to show off her beauty before the princes and people of the land. With the advice of his counselors he determined to remove Vashti’s royal title and find another wife who he would proclaim queen of the land. As he could see the fair beauty of his niece, Mordecai took advantage of the opportunity to present Esther to the king as a potential bride, but he forbade her to tell the king of their relationship or her Israelite heritage. “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).
There was a vain man named Haman who had risen in the kingdom to rule second only to the king. He hated the Israelites, and Mordecai above them all, because Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. As a result Haman conspired against the Israelites and convinced the king to allow him to kill them all. Mordecai had been loyal to the king, and even foiled a plot against him, but his life became endangered as with all the Jews of their day with this decree. As the day for the slaughter approached, a hangman’s gallows made specifically to kill Mordecai, Mordecai informed Esther of the impending death sentence and asked her to intervene.
Esther naturally felt fear of the consequences that this might bring. To approach the king without his permission could be the death sentence in and of itself, but to give him this news, as if she may have conspired against the king, was something that she could legitimately fear. All her life, all her trials, the losing of her parents, her family being carried into Babylon from their Jewish homeland, her natural beauty, and her exaltation as the queen had led to this moment, and Mordecai asked, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Esther showed remarkable courage, loyalty, and patriotism in her response to her beloved Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Esther was not slain, nor were her people. Haman’s plot was exposed and foiled, and as a result, the gallows that were built for Mordecai were used for Haman. Because of Mordecai’s courage and loyalty to the king he was granted the position previously held by Haman and his voice became second only to King Ahasuerus. Because Esther came to recognize the divine hand of God, that she had been prepared by trial and “come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” her people were saved.
I believe it is important for each of us to ask, “For such and what time have we come? For what purpose have we been guided and prepared through the trials and blessings of our lives?” Heavenly Father has a guiding hand and is much more involved in the details of our lives than I think most people either understand or would like to admit. I saw a movie once whose end depicted the ridiculous notion that man’s life is simply like a feather in the wind, blowing with every breeze, with no guiding purpose or destiny. That is a fool’s notion and one we dare not embrace. It should be our desire to humbly follow the Creator of us all in a life filled with purpose and opportunity under the loving hand of our Savior. We should live lives in which we serve greater purpose, and only by following the Lord can we truly achieve His righteous ends.
As Sister Virginia U. Jensen once said, “I do not believe that you and I are here at this unique time by accident. I believe that, like Esther of old, we are ‘come to the kingdom for such a time as this’ [Esther 4:14], when our influence, our example, our strength, and our faith may stand as a bulwark against the rising tide of evil that threatens to engulf our homes, our families, and our loved ones” (General Relief Society Meeting, September 1997).
I bear my own personal witness that God lives. We are His children. Like any loving parent who walks with care holding the hands of little ones for safety and progression, as I have observed the mother of my children do, by His guiding hand we are led through life for our protection, to progress, and to do great things, things that the Lord would have us do, which we will achieve, if we but recognize His hand and follow His path. If my Heavenly Father loves His children like I know Monica’s love for hers, and I know He does, we could not be more blessed. Let us recognize such times in which we are prepared to do those vital things that need to be done, big or small, even to the saving of our people if necessary. May we rise to the occasion at such a time and do as the wonderful women in our lives, and our Redeemer, who have done and risked all for us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.