Year B Pentecost 18 – Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; James 5:13-20; Mk 9:38-50
Part of being human is suffering through unwanted circumstances beyond our control. God’s covenant people especially understand being subjected to persecution, martyrdom, and oppression.
Our readings today offer Esther as the embodiment of hope during such events. Her story is one of courage, intrigue, drama, and admiration. Her righteous character was tested with an offer to receive half of the kingdom. The heroine of Jewish folklore has since been memorialized in annual celebrations.
This week’s psalm encourages us to celebrate past victories when Providence overruled Evil’s intent. It is healthy for the Church, as God’s covenant people, to rejoice even when there has been suffering.
James once again gives a practical explanation. Prayer is successful because of the character of a person is trusting in the character of Sovereign God.
Note that Elijah was claiming by faith the covenant made between God and Israel when Solomon dedicated the temple. It wasn’t human effort that held back rain and then caused it to return. Humans are not Nature’s Creator. It was the prayer of a righteous person who dared to hold God accountable for promise God made.
Esther, like Elijah, was fervent in her faith. Her actions help illustrate Jesus’ teaching that when someone is not against us, they are for us. Esther’s king was not against her people. When the opportunity came, he championed God’s people.
Take hope when you suffer unwanted circumstances. Providence led you there with a purpose. God will deliver you through the circumstance and sometimes even from it. Your relationship with God is what is crucial, not the circumstance.