Rocks and hard places. It’s not that one thing has gone awry, but it seems all things have. And in the middle of the chaos, we are forced to make choices when none of the options seems to offer any relief. You are not alone. We move in and out of that common-to-all experience as we encounter different life seasons. It can be so supremely discouraging that the word “despair” begins to infiltrate our core thoughts. I have no advice to give about how to shake that feeling or any process to offer that will change your circumstances today. Instead, I want to share a story you might be able to connect to. It’s the Old Testament story of a man and his cousin who played a pivotal role in snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat. It’s the story of Esther. Meet (or remember) the players. First, a conquered and enslaved nation – Israel, the Jewish people. Then there was Mordecai, a man who was raising his orphaned cousin Esther. Finally comes Haman, the second in authority next to the king who nursed a deep hatred for all the Jewish people, but especially for Mordecai. At the time we enter this tale, Esther (who has kept her Jewish ancestry a secret) has been elevated to queen through the process of the king sleeping with a harem of girls until he chose the one he enjoyed the most (and you thought the Bible was out of date!). Haman developed a plan, with the king’s approval, to allow citizens to attack and kill all Jewish people on a certain date, just because Mordecai would not bow down to him when he walked by. So we have government sanctioned human trafficking and genocide, with absolute power driving it all. But let’s skip to the end of the story. Haman ended up being hanged by the noose he had intended to stretch Mordecai’s neck. The king sanctioned a national day of defense for the Jewish people, so they could kill anyone who had planned to attack them, and Mordecai took Haman’s place at the side of the king. Since none of us can really relate to this series of events, where can we connect? Well, right before the turning point in this drama, cousin Mordecai urges Esther to reveal her ethnicity to the king and ask for his favor to stop Haman’s plan of destruction. The trouble is that anyone who approaches the king without being summoned was subject to death, and it could be that when the king found out she was a Jew, her reign and possibly her life would end (this second peril is not listed in the story, but it was a reality of the times). On the other hand, if she said nothing, all her relatives, indeed, all her nation would be destroyed. A rock and a hard place. Neither choice offered anything warm and fuzzy. Instead, death was staring her in the face. So what fueled her choice? A simple reminder, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV84). There are two solid rocks of foundation in this verse. First, our God is a deliverer, and he will deliver! The second, he knows right where we are, and where we are, no matter how difficult the place, is full of great and planned purpose- “for such a time as this.” Difficult places will be difficult, there’s no escape from that. But Jesus is in the difficulty with you and will guide you to make the right, hard choice and you will see victory! Don’t step away and choose without him.