Immersed in the Book of Esther, “the Scroll,” we have Purim, a lesser known Jewish holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from an evil plot orchestrated by Haman. Esther is our heroine, a Jewish girl who finds favor with the king and intercedes for her people.
Purim actually means “lots,” as in casting lots, gambling, playing the odds. Now I understand why God pointed me to Esther the other day. It’s a bit funny, I’ve read it perhaps a dozen times, but somehow managed to miss the entire central point, Purim, the casting of lots. Statistical anomalies, God’s perfect synchronicity, the way people, events, are often put in place, lined up, for such a time as this, and the outcome as we roll the dice totally defies the odds.
By all reason, math, probability, and flow charts, the Jews should have all been slaughtered at that plot. All in good humor here, but if I had been Esther, they probably would have been. My survival rating in a harem full of women is about a minus 2. My capacity to find favor with the king, not so good either. Just reading the story I am struck by the urge to ask King Ahasuerus, be ye stupid? Which as you probably know, are not the seductive words of love most men are hoping to hear.
I’m actually rather pleased that God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, although His presence is certainly known and felt. The reason I am pleased by that fact is that we are not waiting patiently for God to magically deliver us a miracle. He has given us all we need, He has placed people in position, His perfect synchronicity is at work, but we must step into His will, we must play our part. We must trust in ourselves and trust in His will.
I am not much of a gambler, way too cheap and practical, risk adverse, but also I am a statistical anomaly myself, as in if it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. I’ve always enjoyed calculating statistical probabilities…and watching the math completely fail me in a most uncanny and supernatural way.
So, by carefully calculating in random happenstance, the odds of IB drawing at least some red cards off a shuffled deck are quite high. Now watch me defy the odds, draw off five black cards, and if we are gambling I assure you they will all be low ranking, unrelated to one another, and basically completely unplayable. As someone once quipped, it’s almost spooky how you always lose by a pair of twos. Yes indeed. Spooky.
I am also the woman who has 75 unmatched socks on my dryer, a fascinating anomaly, since we only have 75 pairs of socks in the first place. What are the odds of the washing machine eating only one of each pair? It’s actually so phenomenal, I believe it is statistically impossible.
Ah yes, but Matthew 19:26 tells us, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
It takes some serious skillz to see God’s hand even in your bad luck, to appreciate how He makes His presence known to you even in something as silly as socks, but such things are quite true. Sometimes He opens doors for you, sometimes He slams them shut, and sometimes He simply asks you to kick them down. The more we draw close to Him, the better we know His will in any given situation.
Woven throughout the book of Esther is this assurance being given to the Jews, this promise that they can rely on themselves, trust themselves, even in exile, even in a foreign culture, even in the midst of customs and a power structure that does not align with their values. The hand of Divine Providence is upon you.
When we have the Lord’s favor, the odds are in our favor, no matter what things look like on the outside.