My Haman Heart
It happened again recently. There I was reading my Bible passage for the day and dutifully minding my own business, when a few verses I have read countless times before leapt off the page and started messing with me!
I've always loved the story of Esther—the intrigue, the irony, the heavenly activity hidden from earthly eyes. Prudent and courageous Queen Esther is a hero of mine. And I have always held Haman up to scorn and derision for his arrogant and cruel self-absorption.
But this reading was different. There it was in black and white: "Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as . . ." (Est. 5:13). Suddenly, I was identifying more with Haman than Esther.
Haman was a man of deep emotions. In one verse he was both "joyful and glad of heart" and then suddenly "filled with wrath" (Est. 5:9). He had been over-the-top happy to be the sole guest of his king and queen at a magnificent feast. But on his way home to boast about his special treatment, his joy is overridden with rage when he noticed Mordecai's snub.
Nevertheless, he goes home, gathers his friends and family, and lists in detail all his good fortunes—his financial success, his many sons, his political power—and then comes his crowning announcement: "Tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king" (Est. 5:12).
What would the casual reader expect to be the next words out of his mouth? "What a lucky man I am! Come again tomorrow, and I'll share every juicy detail! I might even give you my autograph."
But no, the very next words out of his mouth are, "Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate" (Est. 5:13). And those words of jealous discontent set in motion the total destruction of Haman and his household.
It was those very words that unexpectedly stood out to me. "Yet all this is worth nothing to me so long as . . . " You see, I am wonderfully blessed, too. But I am troubled by my Haman heart that all too often rises up to say, "Yet all this is worth nothing to me so long as _______________." And I fill in that blank with my worry or fear of the day.
Rejoicing in His Plan
That morning I saw it more clearly than ever before. Way down deep, where few people ever have access, I am Haman. When things are going well, I am "joyful and glad of heart." But when someone or something doesn't respond in the way I think they should, my joy dissipates and my heart is saddened. I dwell on it too much, wasting precious emotional and spiritual energy (of which none of us has unlimited resources). I saw that I needed to confess my self-absorption and embrace His part for me in His grand, eternal plan.
God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, but He is powerfully moving on behalf of His people and His kingdom purposes then and now. Perhaps you can't see God working in your life, but don't trust your earthly eyes. His ways are far beyond ours (Isa. 55:8–9) and nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
What is your "so long as"? Is there someone's name whose mere mention provokes you to anger? Confess it. Weed out this troubling root of bitterness before its poison destroys you and those around you (Heb. 12:15). Is there some action God must take for you to rejoice with Him in His plan for your life?
May God help us to own our Haman hearts. "When my soul was embittered . . . I was like a beast toward you" (Ps. 73:21–22). May He open our eyes to see beyond our circumstances into His glorious purposes.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:25–26).
By Jani Ortlund