Last Week: God is active while also hidden, silent and seemingly inactive. –God orchestrated the salvation of his people with: a beautiful woman, a forgotten good deed, a sleepless night, and 2 banquets, and in-spite of an ill tempered king, and a racist prime minister. We were born for a moment, or several moments in history.
How our past can make or break our futures. “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, since no one will see God without it. Watch carefully that no one falls short of God’s favor, that no well of bitterness springs up to trouble you and throw many others off the path.” (Hebrews 12:14-15) NIV and many other versions: “let no root of bitterness grow up ”
Where does bitterness / hatred come from? What are you carrying with you? Is there a well of bitterness? Narrative Therapy: -The stories we live by effect how we live. -Even how we speak gives power to people.
A story which will hopefully change us: Haman had a family history of hating Jews. (The story of Esther reads like the Holocaust or any national mistreatment of a minority) Haman had his own reasons for hating Jews: “Haman was furious when he saw that Mordecai refused to bow and pay him the respect he was due” Est 3:5
Generalising: All of them are like him. “your kingdom is being overrun by them” “people who haven’t adopted our customs” “their laws differ to our laws” “It’s not a good idea for you to tolerate them” “I’ll pay 375 tonnes of silver to kill them all.” From Esther 3:8-9
On the other hand, Mordecai and Esther have just as good a reason for bitterness, pain and hatred, as their people were largely wiped out by a war. Yet Mordecai decides to save the kings life by un-masking an assassination attempt. Pain leads to revenge, or internalising, or is made part of our story.
Haman part 2. Controlled by another. “Haman left dinner in high spirits, almost gleeful, but his joy was short lived. As he walked he passed by Mordecai, who didn’t bow and was not afraid” Est 5:9 After bragging for hours and hours: “I must be honest, seeing Mordecai makes it difficult to celebrate any of my good fortune” Est 5:13 His friends encouraged to kill Mordecai.
Haman part 3. Haman, how should I reward a good man? “First, have your servants bring one of the robes you have worn and one of the horses you have ridden that has worn the royal crown on its head. 9 Then, you should give the robe and horse to one of your most noble officials. Have him robe the man whom you want to honor and then lead the man on horseback throughout the center of the city. It should be announced that this is what happens for the man whom the king wants to honor. King Ahasuerus: 10 Your idea is perfect, Haman. I want you to go and do this immediately. Take one of my robes and one of my horses and do exactly what you have suggested to Mordecai, the Jewish man who sits at my gate. Do everything you have said, and don’t leave out one single detail. Not one! (Esther 6:8-10)
Haman part 4 (Esther 6:12-14) Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” -Not very helpful advisors.
Things to keep in mind: Bitterness is like eating rat poison and expecting a rat to die. Bitterness can discolour the beautiful parts of life. Bitterness is like a root which can destabilise a house, and is like an underground cavity which can create a sinkhole.
Some ideas on avoiding bitterness. Assess why you hate who you hate, and learn from your hatreds. Make decisions when people hurt you whether to address the hurt (active), or bear it (passive). Creatively vent. (send un-addressed letters, burn or tear things, rant at God and with God) Convince your children and friends not to hate who you hate.
Pray for at first and do good for those who have hurt you. (if safe to do so) Celebrate times when pain doesn’t turn you into a monster.