Whether or not we can project the kind of faith that God wants us to have is tested when we face challenges where our own lives are on the line. It is easy to just keep quiet and try to save our own skin, but in doing so we might actually endanger ourselves. This was what Mordecai impressed upon his cousin, Queen Esther, when she initially refused to intervene to save the Jews living in Persia. Although she was the queen, Esther was fearful of her life because she said, “Any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives” (Esther 4:11). This being the law of the land, no one can blame Esther for this fear. However, Esther had to reconsider her stance when Mordecai, in response, said, ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
These words of Mordecai reminded Queen Esther that she could not hide her true identity as a Jew forever. In one way or another, her true identity would eventually be disclosed and, if such happened, the law would take its course. As a result, Queen Esther took a courageous stand and declared, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). When Queen Esther said, “If I perish, I perish” it was not a statement of desperation, hopelessness or resignation. Rather, it was a statement of courage and faith in God. After having prayed and fasted for three days, she believed that her life and the lives of her people, the Jews, would be spared. Indeed, she and her people were saved because the Lord intervened and honoured her and Mordecai’s faith.
Years before this incident happened, similar words were uttered by Jacob to save his family. Because of severe famine in the land of Canaan, his family’s survival was threatened. The only way to survive was to get food from Egypt as they did earlier. However, this time his children could not go back to buy food in Egypt unless they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin, along with them as required by the ruler in Egypt. But Jacob refused to let Benjamin go for fear that something might happen to him, just like his brother Joseph who was presumed dead. As there was no other way to save his family, he eventually relented and let Benjamin go, saying to his other sons, “Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man…. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved” (Gen. 43:14).
In both cases, we could see that if we take a courageous stand and are willing to sacrifice our own lives, God will give us the grace to overcome our challenges. Both Queen Esther and Jacob did not lose their own lives. Instead, they were able to save theirs and the lives of their families. This was what Jesus meant when He said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25). Had they refused to take a stand, they all could have perished. When confronted with this kind of challenge, entrusting our lives to the Lord is the best option. To go otherwise will expose us to more dangers. However, we can only take such a courageous stand if we are truly born again and can confess that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
As believers, we are expected to take the same courageous stand because we are to love our neighbours. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). It could cost us our lives to show our love to our neighbours, but we should still have enough faith in the Lord and be willing to follow in the example set by Esther, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” Glory to God!