Three things painfully mark our lives – Sins, mistakes and tragedies. Sins means the sins we commit against others, the sins others commit against us, or perhaps even sins someone commits that are not against us but they affect us. Mistakes are not violations of God’s Word, but just bad decisions. Tragedies are the things that, frankly, we just cannot fully explain. Charles Swindoll wrote, “Life and pain are synonymous. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional. Since we cannot get free of pain, the secret of successful living is finding ways to live above the level of misery.”
We have been learning, from the book of Esther, more about God and how He is sovereign in all of life. God is always at work in our lives. In Esther chapter three we see Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, saves the king’s life by uncovering an assassination plot against the king’s life. Everything is going well, right? No! Instead of Mordecai receiving a promotion for his saving the king’s life, Haman is promoted. Haman commands everyone to bow down to him. Mordecai refuses to bow down. Haman learns of Mordecai’s disobedience and that Mordecai was a Jew.
Haman is the mortal enemy of the Jews. The previous Jewish king, Saul, had been instructed by God to get rid of the Amalekites. Haman is a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Unfortunately, Saul killed all of the Amalekites except for Agag. So, when Haman is promoted by king Xerxes he is now in a position to exact revenge on all of the Jews since it was their people who had killed his ancestors.
Haman becomes obsessed with Mordecai because he would not bow down to Haman. Haman decides that he is going to make an example out of not just Mordecai, but all of the Jews in Persia. He convinces king Xerxes that the Jews are a troublemaking people and that they are going to cause the king problems. Haman promises to take care of the king’s problem for him. Haman’s plan was for the king to issue a decree to kill the Jews and Haman would pay the king. The king liked this idea, especially about getting paid. With the king’s permission and authority, Haman declares that all of the Jews are to be killed. The date is set on the calendar and everyone is notified of the edict.
As you read the book of Esther, you cannot help but think, “This is not right. Things should not be this way. Why is God allowing this to happen? Why does God not stop the evil behavior of Haman and Xerxes?” Beth Moore wrote, “A soul has a health-need to know that justice will be served. Thankfully, by an all-knowing, all-wise God, we have just such an assurance. His name, ‘the Ancient of Days,’ implies that the same judge who sat on the bench the day the wrong was committed will be sitting on the bench the day of sentencing.”
If God is all-powerful and good, why does He allow evil and suffering? How should we respond to the evil in the world around us? First, evil and suffering appear only after the Fall of Adam and Eve. It is helpful to remember, evil occurs in the world not because God is not good, but because people are sinful. Every issue is a spiritual issue.
Second, suffering has a redemptive quality in our lives. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Third, suffering causes our hope for Jesus’ return to mature. Sufferings in this life give rise to hope, for no present suffering compares with the rewards that await the faithful follower of Christ.
Fourth, God disciplines His people even through pain and suffering to bring us close to Him through His promises. God is preparing us for what He has for us.
God deals with evil through the gospel. It was not in spite of the greatest injustice and evil against Jesus that God achieved His work of salvation, but through those very acts of injustice and evil. God does not waste a moment or season in our lives.