Thursday, August 6, 2009

Haman's Bane

Journal for Christa—

I’m a wimp. I always have been. I’ve thoroughly bought into the consequence concept and the idea of your sins “finding you out.” I hate pain and suffering. I’d do most anything to avoid it. I manage to get into enough trouble without asking for it. So, I think that’s one reason I especially like looking at people in the Bible, characters in classic literature, and people in general. When Jay and I are in an airport, he’ll open the laptop and log in; I, on the other hand, like to watch people and conjure up all kinds of wonderings about them—men meeting women with a bouquet of flowers, soldiers coming home, college students returning for Christmas—I like watching them all.

This summer I’ve been reading Esther with a group of women from church. I like the book of Esther. I always have. Because it was smaller to haul around than my current Bible, I picked up an old one I used years ago. Though the binding cover is missing, the pages naturally fell open to Esther, where I discovered several comments in the margins. I’ve always found Esther an interesting woman, but this week the focus was on Haman. Half way through the story, the natural place for the turning point, the tables unexpectedly turn on Haman—the man who had found favor with the king.

Important people. They seem so un-American to me, in the land where everyone is supposed to be equal. But there they are—the beautiful people, the important ones. Important people live in a different realm than I do. I suppose their worries and concerns are far different from mine. Sometime before the narrative opens, Haman had found favor with the king. Perhaps he’d been in the inner circle for some time. One thing’s for sure, he felt pretty comfortable there. There should have been warning signs for Haman concerning Xerxes, the man who had forever banished the queen from his sight in a crazy drunken stupor and who had agreed to exterminate an entire ethnic group on a whim.

Haman, a man others likely envied, fell from favor as swiftly and smoothly as turning a key in a well-oiled lock. How different in character was Mordecai, Esther’s cousin. He simply did his work at the gate, which was not likely a shabby job. Perhaps he’d studied the king closely and knew his ways. After being honored so extravagantly, the narrative states he returned to his work at the gate. Mordecai did use his influence through Esther to accomplish what was right, but he didn’t seem to think so highly of himself. Remember his admonition to Esther? …that if she refused, the Jews would be saved through another avenue? Unlike Haman, Mordecai used his influence to help others. And though God is never directly mentioned, Mordecai put his faith in something bigger than important people. I hope I do the same.

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