My sister and I had set up our Barbie village and being the good little pastor's kids that we were, our village had a church. Somewhere along the way, we had acquired a Barbie-sized book that had Bible verses in it. After arranging our Barbies in "pews", I opened the little book to this verse...
"If I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16
This became the text for my infamous sermon. I used one of our Ken dolls and began to preach to the congregation.
The only problem was that I had no idea what "perish" meant. And I had no clue what to say.
When in doubt, just repeat the verse, right? So, I kept repeating, "if I perish, I perish" until my sister and I were rolling on the floor laughing.
I can't hear that verse without remembering that sermon from so long ago and I laugh to myself every time I hear it.
But I get it now. And this verse has huge implications for believers.
Can we say this and mean it?
At the time these words were spoken, Esther was facing the real possibility that her decision to go before the King without being invited could result in her death. My Bible study leader made the point that although she spent time fasting and praying, this statement was made before she did those things.
And I wonder- where does this type of faith come from? What would make a woman who had been made queen over a mighty empire decide to risk her life?
The thing that I keep coming back to is that She Knew God. She knew that He had a purpose and a plan. Mordecai had reminded her, "who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) She knew that it was no accident that she had been placed in a royal position.
I wonder if she was remembering the way that God had saved the Israelites at the Red Sea? Was she meditating on Moses' words, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today... The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still". (Exodus 14:13a,14)
You need only to be still. This is the kind of faith that allows a young Jewish girl to say "if I perish, I perish."
So many times I forget this need to be still. Instead, I run around and try to solve all of the issues in my life. But what would change if I simply rested in who I know my God to be?
Would I be able to say...
...if I lose my baby, I will trust God's perfect plan?
...if I get the call that my Daddy didn't make it through the night, I will rejoice that he is at home?
...if our country continues to be divided because of political parties, I will be faithful in doing what God calls me to do?
...if our church doesn't grow numerically, I will not worry, but trust God's timing?
We know the end of Esther's story- the Lord did indeed fight for her in a dramatic way! She did not perish. Instead, the Jewish people were saved from annihilation as a result of her faithfulness.
The challenge for us is to have this same "if I perish, I perish" faith when we don't know the end of the story. It is being able to say "if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it... But even if he does not, we will not serve your gods." (Daniel 3:17,18) like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. And it is being able to say as Paul did, "for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
"If I perish, I perish" is a statement of faith and trust in our almighty and faithful God. It comes from a knowledge of who He is. It is found when we are willing to be still.
Twenty seven years later and I am still learning what it means to say "if I perish,I perish". But I am willing to spend the rest of my life learning to know God more, learning to be still and seeking to have this kind of Esther faith!