"Polish" - 1) To make smooth and shiny; 2) To free from coarseness; 3) To complete or perfect by removing flaws.
What does the word "sacrifice" mean to me?
"The reward of sacrifice is peace."
"Step 3: Polishing Through Sacrifice"
"In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.
Henry Ward Beecher
She was orphaned. Then separated from the cousin she had grown to love. Today, we find Esther part of a nationwide beauty pageant. In Esther, Chapter 2, we are told that, after months of preparation, Esther was taken to the royal palace to the throne of King Ahasuerus. Verse 17 describes the scene as the king sees this young Jewish girl for the first time:
"And the king loved Esther above all women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins: so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen."
Esther 2: 17
I find it interesting the Bible says the king "loved" Esther. This is what I would call "love at first sight." And it is worth noting, the root word for love in this context, in the Hebrew, means "to have great affection for." This beautiful woman, I believe, had not forgotten the God of her childhood, and she was so radiant, she captivated the heart of the king as no other woman in his kingdom. With a single pronouncement, Esther was crowned queen of Medo-Persia - a Jewish girl ruling in a foreign land.
Up to this point in time, Esther, at the advice of her cousin, Mordecai, had been instructed not to reveal her nationality. However, through the wily efforts of a devious character named Haman, an official edict was sneakily passed by the unsuspecting king and a decree was issued that all Jews would be killed on a certain day. Now was Esther's time to shine. Informed by her cousin of the peril to her people, and after a great time of prayer, she went to the king to ask for the deliverance of the Jews. In some of the most inspiring words ever spoken, Esther told her cousin:
"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Susban, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish."
Esther 4: 16, K.J.V.
At the risk of losing her life, Esther put herself on the line to save the people of Israel. What bravery! What courage! What sacrifice!
I contend it was a willing sacrifice borne out of the "polishing" through the times of pain Esther, herself, had suffered. She could not let her people suffer and hurt. She knew what it felt like, for pain had touched her life, too. Sorrow had weighed heavily on her heart. And now, the lessons she learned through the painful experiences helped her make the decision to lay down her own life, if necessary, to save others. What's more, the courage and strength Esther needed to stand up at this critical moment were forged in the fires of separation she sustained as a young woman. During this time of "aloneness," when she had to rely on God for her power, she gained the confidence needed to face the harsh winds of strife at this critical point in history.
It was Louis de Montfort who said, "The more you give yourself, the more God will give himself to you," and we certainly see this truth reflected in Esther's life - a woman who chose to sacrifice her own life to save the lives of others.
In Ephesians 5: 1, 2, the apostle Paul invites us to, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrifice" (New International Version).
Through the "polishing of sacrifice" we see Esther, whose heart was stayed on God, accepting the purpose for her life, even when that purpose called for great sacrifice.
Many years ago, a young Scotsman came to hear a sermon by a famous missionary. Afterward, this young boy began to "grapple" with the question that comes to all of us at some time: "What shall I do with my life? What am I willing to sacrifice to follow God's call?
After finishing his medical education, the young doctor, David Livingstone, became the "Pathfinder of Africa." Living a life of great hardship and difficulty, he traveled to the heart of Africa with his healing hands and heart. He fought with every bit of his strength against the barbarism of the slave trade. In describing Dr. Livingstone, his friend Stanley said: ‘For the time I lived with him I never found a fault in him. His gentleness never forsakes him. No harassing anxieties, distraction of mind, long separation from home and kindred, can make him complain…he has such faith in the goodness of providence.'"
David Livingstone died on May 4, 1873 in Africa. And while his body was taken back to England where he is buried in Westminster Abbey, his friends buried his heart in the land to which he gave his life. His heart never left Africa.
The past few days as I have studied the life of Esther, I have asked myself, "Dorothy, what would you willingly sacrifice if God asked you?"
When God polishes us through sacrifice, may we never forget Josemaria Escriva's inspiring words: "The way of Love has a name: it is sacrifice."
"God, make me brave for life; oh braver than this. Let me straighten after pain, as a tree straightens after the rain, shining and lovely again. God, make me brave for life; much braver than this. As the blown grass lifts, let me rise from sorrow with quiet eyes, knowing Thy way is wise. God, make me brave; life brings such blinding things. Help me to keep my sight; help me to see aright that out of dark comes light."
Violet Alleyn Storey
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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