I have always found the story of Esther horrifying, in terms of the disregard for the value of human life and the treatment of women at that time. At the same time, it is a story of unexpected heroism. Esther was considered by her society to have but one purpose in life – to please the king. This had been drummed into her for all of her adult experience. How then did she find the courage to go so dramatically “off message” and to imagine that she could sway the mind of the king? Her cousin told her that she had been brought to her position “for such a time as this.” She trusted in God, believed her uncle, and saved the Israelite nation.
I have always believed that Christians are brought to specific situations and positions “for such a time as this.” Coronavirus is shaking the foundations of our nations and most people are fearful for themselves, their loved ones and the frail and elderly in their communities. God has brought each one of us to where we are so that our lives can shine out faith, hope and love. This is our time. Right now.
My husband and I are supposed to be in Greece this week. We had paid flights and accommodation to go and work with a church in Athens. But here we are in the UK on a week’s annual leave when everything around us is uncertain. I can’t help feeling that we are here “for such a time as this”. We are moving ahead with our week, listening out for the nudge of the Holy Spirit. We’ve contacted some people who are living alone to check they are okay. We’ve helped my elderly mother buy a tablet and are teaching her to use video calling so she won’t feel so isolated if we need to stay away. None of these things are earth shattering, but company and human contact are vital to us all. We are the hands and voice of Jesus and we can be that even if we or others are self-isolating.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” I love the idea of our witness being a smell. It helps me to realise that when I am in a meeting, even when I don’t say much, I am spreading the aroma of Christ. When I choose one action over another, when I pray for neighbours, when I worship….. in all these things, I am exuding a smell of God’s love.
Coronavirus gives us each an opportunity to step into God’s purposes for our lives and to “smell like Christ” in our responses to the crisis.
I haven’t done many pictures based on this scripture, but this shows each Christian’s life as a bowl of incense with the sweet smell of praise and worship rising to God. I am sure God loves the smell, but that other people can’t help being aware of it too.