Happy Purim!

While I am not Jewish, neither in nationality nor religion, this year I am remembering Purim!  Since childhood I have thrilled to hear the story of Esther, and how God miraculously saved His Chosen People from the plot of Haman in answer to their prayers.  On the other hand, inspired by my sister at  http://pickmeuppapers.blogspot.com, I recently read The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, the story of a dear Dutch family who risked their lives to hide Jews during Hitler’s reign of cruelty in Nazi Germany; through this, I was inspired to care more for God’s People and their plight.  So today I am celebrating Purim with two thoughts: First, I have a great God who cares for me and answers my prayers, and second,  the Jews, God’s precious people, have been hurt so awfully through the ages, but God always delivers them.

Hamantaschen are Jewish cookies served at Purim. The word literally means "Haman's ears" or "Haman's hat." My mom first introduced them to me, wanting to serve them to her fourth grade girls' Sunday School class when telling them the story of Esther. She always tried to make the story come alive to them! We made peach, cream cheese, and blackberry fillings.

There are many amazing things about the story of Esther, but one of the foremost is how God worked miraculously in answer to the prayers of His people.  Esther was chosen queen although she was a Jew living in a foreign land, ruled by a foreign people.  While in the palace, a wicked man named Haman conceived the plot to exterminate all Jews because of a personal grievance with one Jew named Mordecai.  While all the Jews prayed, and after fasting for three days herself, Esther risked her life by going before the king without being asked for.  The fate of her people was in the balance, and her own life also; the stakes were high.  And I see an indispensable lesson here.  When faced with threatened extinction of the whole Hebrew race, and death for herself, Esther went first to God.  And she did not quickly mutter a prayer, but rather gave herself to three days of fasting and praying.  I believe in those three days she resigned all claim to her own dreams, desires, cares, and even breath of life.  She lay all at the Lord’s feet, willing to endure anything He asked of her, yet imploring His aid, and determining to do what was in her power to do.  She did, and our righteous God, who never left His people desolate, heard those prayers and miraculously saved His Chosen Ones.

Proverb 34:15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

It was such a great salvation that day that Israel’s enemies were smitten instead of Israel!  Mark that down as a prayer answered!  My youth pastor once even recommended the use of a “Purim Book” to record prayers answered!  Our God is wonderful God!

This was not the first time God’s People had been threatened, neither was it the last.  Throughout history they have been attacked time and again, and yet miraculously they have survived.  There is no reason a small ethnic group as the Jews should ever have endured so much and even returned after centuries to establish their own country…no reason except for a God who is behind them.  We may never know why God chose them to have special dealings with, them to guide to a Promised Land, them to give His own Son unto, but of one thing we may be sure: He will not be overcome.  One man called them the “Apple of God’s Eye.”  And as such, I will stand with them, for I would never wish to be counter a Living God.

I have recently been exposed to three separate accounts of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.  The truths were overwhelming; I will never understand the demeaning of fellow human beings for the simple reason of skin color or race.  And as to the blatant, unashamed murder of so many thousands of precious lives…why, it is beyond my comprehension except to say it was the power of sin unleashed. My heart went out to those people, and could not understand how others, so many others stood by watching, doing nothing.  Then, to think of the people themselves, their lives reduced to mere survival, acting as vicious animals, scratching and tearing one another simply to stay alive, I saw the utter depravity sin is.  But where Christians revealed the light of the Gospel, even amidst horrid conditions, there was love and unselfishness, brotherhood and singing hearts.  Where human feet tread hard, icy, ground, “beautiful” Christian feet walked with Christ.  Where human bodies ached from disease, starvation, and hypothermia, Christian hearts soared to see God’s Hand at work even in prison camps.  And what was the difference?  The Light of Christ shone through His servants; where there were no Christians, the Light did not shine and sin wreaked havoc.  I prayed that day that God might use me –if it be, in a horrible place like that –but that I might never hinder His working.