Dealing with Mortal Anguish
“Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand.”
Queen Esther is in a bad situation. The king has signed a decree to have all the Jews killed. Mordecai, who raised her, tells her that her becoming queen may very well have been God’s providence for just this moment. She has to tell the king she is Jewish. And she is seized with mortal anguish.
For to share that she is Jewish, to the king, could very well mean the end of her life. Can she stand up for her faith, even in the face of death? Or will she succumb (maybe even understandably so) to her fear and remain silent.
I cannot remember ever facing such a situation, like Queen Esther’s, but in thinking about the martyrs, I must admit that I have thought about whether I could bear such a crown. Or, would I fail to stand up for my faith?
But it is the case that we can find ourselves faced with choices each day that require courage. Maybe confronting a coworker who tells ethnic jokes. Perhaps standing up for someone who it being made fun of or bullied. Maybe sharing my position on a “hot button” issue where I have a chance to defend Church teaching.
All of these examples can fill us with anguish. But each of these examples can become times where we say yes to God by cooperating with God’s grace. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we can summon the ability to cooperate with God’s grace. To do so is what this Lent is for in our lives.
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