Once upon a time there was a nobleman, born to privilege and elevated by the king above all other officials. Not only was the nobleman honored, he believed he was worthy of honor.

So when one man refused to bow before him, the nobleman became enraged. Consumed with hatred, the nobleman devised a plan to annihilate the unbending one and his entire race. The scheme would have succeeded were it not for the courage of an orphan.

Her parents named her after the myrtle bush adorned with blue-black berries and pink or white flowers. The delicate petals of myrtle, when crushed and refined, yield a fragrant perfume.

The crushing began early. Kneeling beside the silent graves of her mother and father, the orphan took the hand of her cousin who raised her as his own.

Broken within but beautiful without, one day she won the favor of the king. God’s purposes, however, were greater than royalty. Position was simply the doorway to the destiny God offered her.

So crossed the paths of the nobleman and the orphan. The nobleman called the one who would not bow traitor and enemy. The orphan called the one who would not bow cousin and father. The nobleman craved honor for he loved himself. The orphan risked all for the love of her people.

The nobleman we remember as Haman. The orphan we remember as Hadassah, Queen Esther. Haman was executed for his evil deception. Hadassah–crushed and refined–spread the life-giving fragrance of joy to her entire nation.

Such costly perfume is the product of sacrifice not privilege. It is the creation not of fragile human honor but of God’s unbending favor.


An excerpt from “Pure Joy”