By The Rev. Canon Joseph Galgalo
The opening chapter of Second Corinthians reads like a memoir of a troubled soul: ‘the hardship we suffered ….’ ‘we were under great pressure,’ … beyond our ability to endure …’ ‘… we despaired even of life …’ ‘… we felt the sentence of death …’ one could ask: ‘How bad could it get?’ In the same breath, the book of Esther begins with a story I am tempted to title, ‘trouble in paradise.’ Death and danger lurk amidst the royal festivity and merrymaking. Queen Vashti is banished, a plot to assassinate king Xerxes is hatched, and a plan to exterminate the entire Jewish community is devised.
These accounts provide powerful testimonies of hope in the face of adversity and despair. They are stories of great deliverance. These testimonies are particularly inspirational in showing how God is often at work against forces of evil. The troubles of life are a sure reminder of our limitations and the fact of our dependency and finitude. Great challenges often humble us to acknowledge God’s help that lifts us to levels we would otherwise not reach. This is Paul’s testimony: “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but God, who raises the dead. God has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us” (vv.9b, 10). We may never fully understand why the world is full of painful experiences, and why life is often such a depressing affair. It is possible, however, to grasp by faith the glorious truth that God is able to turn desperate situations into one of hope and triumph. The possession of this truth, or lack of it, can make all the difference in how we may approach life’s challenges.
Do you see power and greed at play in the story of Esther? How is it possible to see this as a story of hope?
What encouragement or inspiration can we take from Paul’s testimony?
Thank you God for your constant help in all our troubles, and that your mercies are new every morning, through Christ our good shepherd. Amen
The Rev. Canon Joseph Galgalo is Vice Chancellor, St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya