All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. — Esther 3:2
This month, Jews around the world celebrate the observance of Purim, which commemorates the biblical story of Queen Esther. In these devotions, I share with you the lessons of courage found in this story that are from my book, Generation to Generation: Passing on the Legacy of Faith to Our Children. Purim is celebrated at sundown Feb. 25 to sundown Feb. 26.
Of all the values I hope to pass down to my children, courage is one of the most important. If our children are to live godly lives, they will need the courage to choose what is right over what is popular and to favor what pleases God over what impresses others.
As renowned British statesman Winston Churchill said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities … because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” In a world that seems to have lost its moral compass, it is imperative that we teach our children how to navigate and follow a faith-based journey through life with courage and determination.
The Courage to Take a Stand
History is filled with individuals who had the courage to take a solitary stand against popular thinking and changed our world for the better. Abraham taught the world about monotheism, justice, and kindness in spite of the prevailing ideology of idolatry, hostility, and immorality. Moses challenged Pharaoh, the leader of the greatest power of his time, broke the yoke of Egyptian slavery and walked the Israelites to freedom. Jael, from whom my own name is derived, had the courage to kill Sisera, the wicked enemy of Israel, even though her own people were in an alliance with him.
Throughout my life, I watched my father encounter tremendous adversity in his work building bridges between Christians and Jews. Yet he had the courage to choose what he felt was right, and ultimately, he persevered and succeeded.
As we celebrate the holiday of Purim this month and read the book of Esther once again, I am reminded of yet another courageous man from this inspirational story. While Esther is looked upon as the official hero of the story for saving her people, the Jews, it was her Uncle Mordecai who laid the groundwork for that salvation.
In Esther chapter 3, as Haman ascended to power, Mordecai alone refused to bow to this evil man. From there, the story took twists and turns that ultimately led to Haman’s own destruction. But it was Mordecai’s courage to stand up to Haman that brought about the elimination of evil and salvation for the Jews.
It’s not always easy to stand up for the truth. It is not easy to fight against long-held prejudices as my father did. But knowing that men and women of faith have done so before us, gives me the courage to choose what is right and make godly decisions.
Discover the lessons of courage found in the biblical story of Esther, which is celebrated this month in the Jewish observance of Purim. Download a complimentary copy of the chapter on Purim from my new book, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children.