For Such a Time as This?
March 6, 2013
A number of people have pushed back against the idea that I would swear off politics. One Facebook friend responded to an early blog post with this quote from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
And, honestly, I even think these things myself sometimes. Such statements feed my own anxiety about not doing more. My anxiety about not playing particular roles in politics. I regularly feel drawn to make a difference in that arena because I can. Or at least I think I can. And should.
But recent conversations and social media statements have reminded me again and again. Sometimes you’re meant to be in a certain place at a certain time, even if it’s not where you or others think you’re supposed to be.
Doing what God has for me to do at this time does not equal doing nothing.
In mentioning last month’s Jewish Festival of Purim, another Facebook friend’s recent post reminded me of the phrase: “For such a time as this.” Purim celebrates Queen Esther’s role in ensuring that the Jewish people across the Persian empire were spared from an order to annihilate them. The Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament explain how Queen Esther, an undercover Jew who, through an unusual opportunity, is chosen as queen by King Ahasuerus, is at the right place at the right time. She takes a big risk in revealing her ethnicity and bringing to the king her concern about the threat to her people. But she finds favor in the king’s eyes, and the Jewish people are saved. The Book of Esther suggests that she was in that place and space for a reason. In chapter 4, verse 14, the question is asked, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
When I’m sitting at my desk at work, where I make recommendations for grant funding to non-profit organizations, I often think to myself, “For such a time as this.” God has given me a great job in philanthropy at a time when both the non-profit and government sectors are such difficult, unstable environments. (I used to work in the former and have often aspired to the latter.) While having the steady income and relatively low-stress work environment that wasn’t at all guaranteed during my non-profit career, I get to help direct funding toward needy agencies and communities. And I often have energy left at the end of the day or work week to go above and beyond the call of duty. So I help develop the capacity of young leaders and less-sophisticated groups that might not otherwise position themselves well for future funding. Rather than doing nothing, I’m doing something.
To be honest, my self-righteous self also identifies at times with Genesis’ Joseph. (Remember the musical “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”?) This Biblical character’s brothers resent him (maybe with good reason). They sell him into slavery, which takes him to Egypt. Through various ups and downs and ups, Joseph rises to the position of administrator of great stockpiles of food which become vital during a time of great famine in the land. Joseph’s traitor brothers have to come to Egypt to beg him for provisions to feed their families. Joseph doesn’t rub it in their faces. He sends them home with what they came for.
My professional position sometimes calls me to make grant recommendations to organizations whose main characters have tried to throw me under the bus over the years. When I get full of myself and think vindictive thoughts, I try to remind myself of how—like Esther and Joseph—God has put me in this place and space for a reason. I dig deep—or rather tap into God’s grace—and graciously facilitate funding even to those I may feel have done me wrong.
So as I (often impatiently) honor the roles God would have me play today, I strive to do the following:
- Notice how well God has taken care of me while making me wait for what I think are other elements of my calling;
- Allow God to work on my character flaws along the way;
- Live in confidence that God will put me in the right place in politics at the right time, if that’s where I’m supposed to be.
I’m thankful that my political friends, colleagues, and even some rivals think that the world is a better place when I’m engaged with politics. But it’s more important that I allow myself to live into God’s grace and accept the possibility that God may have me positioned in a different way for such a time as this.