Friday, April 30, 2010

Mordecai, the Parent

Check out the study of Mark in May at my blog this month. A new entry every two or so days.

Mordecai, the Parent

If you heard her story for the first time, it would bend your heart in her favor. At a young age, she lost both parents and was taken into the loving care of a responsible cousin. But even that situation wasn’t ideal, because the cousin—like his fellow countrymen were captives. No one knew if they would ever be allowed to return to their native homeland.

Later, another twist is added when a war king banishes his queen and robs the community of many beautiful young virgins so they might enter his harem, training to be the next queen. That short introduction leads us to the story of Esther in the Bible, also known from birth as Hadassah, meaning myrtle.

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up on our calendars, let’s consider this child and her later adult life for a few weeks. Let’s look at the characteristics of this young girl Hadassah and how her faith developed. Despite all her disadvantages—she grew into a woman of character, and eventually through God’s providence became the Queen of Persia.

Like many children today, she had a substitute parent instead of her birth parents. It’s a fact of life. Things happen. Even Jesus had a stepfather. Ester’s story could be one of the most encouraging biblical stories of all time to single parents, grandparents, or foster parents rearing children. Let’s discover how this “disadvantaged” child turned out.

Hadassah had some stellar qualities for one so young. Obviously, her male cousin Mordecai trained her to behold God with wonder instead of resentment. Holy text says that Hadassah was “lovely in form and feature,” and that her cousin had “taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died” (Esther 2:7).

For the young Hadassah, every circumstance exists for bitterness to take root and breed resentment. However, Mordecai and her community of faith must have taught her to look for everyday blessings instead of focusing on the have-nots of life. Mordecai viewed rearing Hadassah as a privilege and this lived-out-generosity influenced her capacity to esteem life.

The world’s history is replete with stories of people providing for fellow human beings even though not kin. The Egyptians—Potiphar, a jailer, and a pharaoh—all saw to Joseph’s needs when he had been sold-out by his brothers. Moses was educated and sustained by an Egyptian princess in the shadow of another pharaoh. At 40, when Moses fled for his life, the Bedouin Jethro—a priest of Midian—took him in. And he gave him a job, a wife, a place to work and make sense of life.

A first step to integrity is to believe and live out that each person is created in the image of God—that life has intrinsic value because God is the originator. Little Hadassah learned this from Mordecai as he cared for her as his own.

As many of the cultures, Israel became a story telling nation, and Israel embraced the tradition of passing on the stories of God around dinner tables, during chores, at bedtime, and when they walked about. In today’s world, some children hear about God and some don’t.

Little Hadassah, no doubt heard the stories of God’s rescue again and again—instilling a hope to trust someone mightier than her cousin Mordecai or herself. Israel’s history included Noah and the ark of safety, the nomad Abraham and his escapes, and near-death-Job, having his life, family, and fortune replenished.

Over the next few weeks, Esther’s story can give hope to parents, those who parent their own children and those who parent others’ children.

Take the first step with your family and lay a foundation of trust in God. Second teach that every person has value and that life deserves respect. And, third, no matter the circumstances instill hope not bitterness.

Model this for the children around you, and then allow God to construct the child’s life. Like little Hadassah, who grew up to save her people, God can empower the children within your care to have wholesome futures and they might even be lifted up to represent God in high places.

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