OK. Finally doing this…
Why did I choose the name of Hadassah for this blog?
First, I wanted something from scripture. I want this to be a place where I can think and talk about my thoughts concerning the most important, and challenging, and helpful, and everything text in my life. The Bible.
Second, I wanted to use the name of a woman that represents strength and assurance of the hope of God.
Third, I felt that Hadassah embodied a lot of what I felt about my life as a woman in Christ, walking through this world.
Her name means myrtle, which in the traditions of her people (Israel) represented righteousness, the right lived life, holy people. She takes a second name to walk among the pagans of her culture: Esther. This name means star, sounds a lot like the Assyrian and Persian god Ishtar, and today could mean princess after her. Yet, in the traditions of her people this name means hidden. She hid herself, her faith, her identity. And God’s ways are mostly hidden in His work through her. God is not even mentioned in the whole book of Esther! I identify with this even as I begin writing here. I know that I have freedoms unimagined to those women before me, and yet….
I sense a fear of womanhood. Not only from men, but from women. Strong women are reacted to defensively, as if a predator of some kind. To be a woman is to always be hidden in some ways. To be a Christian is to always be hidden in some ways. Maybe this is just the way of life in this broken world. And maybe that’s part of the wisdom and time that God has for me. Learning to use the hidden and the revealed of His truth at the right times.
Hadassah had to live this out in the most challenging of ways. Her story doesn’t begin in the usual fairytale way, with the birth of a baby or some kind of evil curse. No, her story begins with another strong woman. One she would never meet.
Vashti was the queen, the most excellent one as her name suggests. And when the king summoned her to his royal party (tradition holds that she was to be naked) she flatly refused. Well, this didn’t go over so well. Open scene 2, the gathering of virgins.
This is where we meet Hadassah, a beautiful orphan. She has learned well the lesson of obedience and goes with the soldiers who take her away using a non hebrew name at the order of her cousin and benefactor. From now on she is Esther, the Persian concubine in training. How terrifying! To a Jewish virgin this could be worse then death! Here her real faith and fortitude begin to shine. She stands above all the others in humble conduct and gracious poise. Even as the night comes that could seal her fate, she humbly takes the advice of the man attending her and only takes what he says she should with her.
And God blesses her.
She becomes the queen of this strange foreign nation that she has never belonged to. Then another terrible thing happens. Just when she’s thinking that she has survived the worst of it. A man comes to power who hates the Jews and tricks the king into making an irreversable edict concerning their extermination. This is the real moment of truth. She knows her lessons of obedience well. There are rules about making requests of the king uninvited. She would probably die even going to try to see him, even as the queen. Look what happened to Vashti, he’s dismissed a queen before! But there is a truer obedience she holds to. Her obedience to God. She knows that God is ultimately working this out for His glory and that if she plays it safe only the glory of the king will be made manifest. Not the glory of her true Lord. So, once again, she stands in the face of the terror and trusts God. He not only saves her, but her people, and makes a way for them to be a part of the place they have only ever been strangers in.
And God blesses her, again.
She was a woman who balanced beautifully the weakness and strength of what it is to be a woman. She learned the wisdom of the hidden, and the strength of Gods timing for revelation. There are many lessons to be learned from her, but I as a woman of today I wonder how she would have reacted in the face of my trials. How would she react to a selfish husband, or a tantrum throwing toddler, or a blaming parent? How would she react to the judgemental woman in the grocery isle who thinks 4 kids are excessive, or the sneering coworker who catches wind of your “value system”? Probably not with the defensive arrogance I tend toward. Probably not with a snarky comment or harsh rebuke. Or even a turned up nose. I’m guessing she would respond with the same humble obedience she was characterized by. Hold her tounge and wait on God’s perfect timing in all things.
So, that’s what I hope to do here. Use this time I have been given the best that I can. Learn a little of how to walk in the hidden, while shining the light. Gleen all I can of the wisdom of hidden and revealed truth. Maybe pass on some encouragement. And, hopefully, train myself to truely be a modern Hadassah.