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Women of Faith


    A QUEEN RISKS HER LIFE




God's unseen hand often guides, directs and preserves his people by working out circumstances, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. One excellent example of this is found in the Old Testament book of Esther. God gave Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl, special favour in the eyes of Ahasuerus, king of Persia. The king had chosen Esther to become his queen in place of his previous wife, Vashti.

Esther's cousin and guardian, Mordecai, however, had a powerful enemy in the court itself - king Ahasuerus' influential noble, Haman. (Mordecai would not bow to him at the city gate each day as proud Haman desired.) When Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish, he determined to destroy not only Mordecai but also his entire race along with him.

hannah woman of the bible, queen esther painting, queen esther bible, florence nightingale and pic, queen esther bible, bible story about hannah As soon as Mordecai heard about Haman's plans, he told Esther it was time to plead for the life of her people. In fact, she had not yet revealed to the king that she was Jewish. Esther said to Mordecai, 'Don't you know that I've not been to the king for 30 days and those who approach the king without being called are executed unless he extends the golden sceptre to the them?' (See Esther 4:11).

Esther had reason to fear. The king was far from a model of virtue. The Greek historian, Herodotus, says Ahasuerus was vain and sensual - terribly dangerous qualities when mixed with absolute power. However Mordecai said to Esther: 'Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the Jews...Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?' (verses 13 and 14).

Mordecai was beginning to realise that God was working behind the scenes to bring about his people's deliverance and that Esther would play an integral part in the plan. Esther made a quick and brave decision: 'Tell the people to fast three days and three nights and I shall go in to the king. If I live, I live and if I perish, I perish' (see verse 16).

Then Esther put on her royal apparel and bravely went to the king's throne room. No doubt a hush fell over the royal court. However, as Esther began walking towards him, the king held out his sceptre - signal that her life was granted. At the moment Esther doubtless said a silent, but fervent, prayer of thanks to God.

To summarise the rest of the story, Esther was ultimately able to put forward her case and the king commanded that Haman be hanged for his presumption. Mordecai was promoted, and the Jews, including Queen Esther, were spared. The book of Esther is fascinating reading with important lessons, one of which God is always there, working behind the scenes. His plans cannot be thwarted by men.

There are times when most of us have questioned events in our lives and wondered where God was. The story of Esther tells us that he is always present. God's hand is not only guiding his church, but also, when we are striving to live his way, he is involved in our individual lives. Remember Esther. When you are discouraged or cannot understand where God is, you can be sure he is not far away.




    HANNAH'S GIFT




Hannah, the God-fearing mother of Samuel the prophet, displayed extraordinary faith and courage during a time of spiritual laxity in Israel. Hannah, was unable to have children. Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, however, had several children and often scornfully reminded Hannah of her failure to fulfill her duty as a wife and Israelite.

hannah woman of the bible, queen esther painting, queen esther bible, florence nightingale and pic, queen esther bible, bible story about hannah As the years passed, Hannah's apparently hopeless situation and Peninnah's taunting caused Hannah increasing unhappiness and distress.

During one of the family's yearly visits to Shiloh, Hannah went to the temple and begged God to give her a child. In humble, fervent prayer she faithfully pledged her perhaps one and only child to God in lifelong service.

Nine months later, Samuel was born. Despite having waited so long for this child, after about three years Hannah willingly gave her son to the service of God. As a loving mother she provided him with clothing and regularly visited him throughout his childhood.

So what importance does the story of Hannah have for us today? Don't we also often find it difficult to see beyond our particular problems? Our difficulties can seem insurmountable, our situation grossly unfair. We cannot always see the benefit of following God's way when others who do not seem to be are blessed so much more than we are.

Doesn't that describe Hannah's situation? Yet Hannah did not give up hope. in faith, she depended on God. According to her word, she gave up her long awaited child to him. Later, we learn, God also blessed her with five more children. Samuel eventually became the last and perhaps the greatest of the judges! A prayer was heard.

When times are difficult, when the situation appears hopeless and remaining faithful seems too hard, take a moment to think about the story of Hannah, a woman of great faith.




    THE CAREER AND CALLING OF
    FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE




hannah woman of the bible, queen esther painting, queen esther bible, florence nightingale and pic, queen esther bible, bible story about hannah If you were God and you wanted to do something about conditions in 19th-century British hospitals who would you use? What gender? Perhaps someone with no attachments to money? God has started marvelous works with people who didn't have two pennies to rub together.

Would you choose an upper class young lady from an influential family? Such was Florence Nightingale, aged only 17. In her diary the 'lady with the lamp' explained: 'On 7th February 1837, God...called me to his service.'

Florence spent eight years searching before she saw her role in serving the sick. She saw heart-rending suffering, gross neglect and a gigantic need for reform. However, it was another eight years before she began nursing. Patience was slowly being built into her character.

But Florence also possessed the intelligence, the resourcefulness, the protective instincts, the staying power - qualities which would make her name legendary as a remarkable woman of character. Behind it all lay the knowledge that God had chosen her to do something important for humanity. Once you really know God has called you, then you too can become a willing servant.



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