Sleep eluded King Xerxes one night because he sat on the reward of a good man. Decked in royalty and affluence, he lay restless. At his command, the book of chronicles, containing the records of the kingdom, was exhumed from the archive and read to his hearing.
Page by page, the records were read. Buried right in this historic book was the heroic deeds of a man named Mordecai. He had saved the king’s life by exposing the conspiracy by disgruntled palace guards to assassinate their master (read Esther 6:1-14). “What honour and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. Nothing!
Ingratitude wounds deeper than an enemy’s sword. But to Mordecai, he refused to bear the baggage of grudges against those that failed to recognize him. As humans, it pierces our hearts when our good deeds are not recognized.
Mordecai chose to act differently. He didn’t launch vitriolic criticism against the king, as most of us will do? He didn’t turn himself to an armchair critic and recruit allies to throw dirty mud at his perceived enemy. He didn’t trade malicious gossip on the street by painting the other person black.
Mordecai acted differently. He went about his business quietly and waited for his vindication. The lesson from this hero is quite clear. Wait for your reward. Wait for it even if it tarries. Don’t set your eyes on instant reward. I strongly believe that good deeds are immortal. Testaments of good work fill the Good Book and cannot be erased from the eyes of God. Like seeds sown for a harvest, good deeds will surely flourish and bear fruits in due time. The only price we have to pay is patience.
The rise of late Prof Dora Akunyili is a lesson that good deeds never perish. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo didn’t know Professor Dora Akunyili anywhere before he appointed her as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). In his autobiography, My Watch, Politics and Public Affairs, Obasanjo narrated how Dora popped up during a casual conversation with a friend. According to the former President, his friend mentioned a particular Nigerian lady who left a shining record at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). The lady had gone to the United Kingdom for medical attention, sponsored by her employer, and after the medicals, she instructed that the unspent fund deposited for her treatment be returned to the state coffer.
The medical institution in the UK was amazed and couldn’t believe that such a lady came from Nigeria. Could honesty be found in a Nigerian? This was contrary to their previous experience, where Nigerians in such situations would appeal to them to rather inflate the bill and upon payment, refund the extra money to them. But Dora chose to be different.
After hearing this story, Obasanjo commenced a search for this honest Nigerian lady. Henceforth, she was appointed the Director General, NAFDAC. Dora’s honesty was a seed she sowed. It took many years for the fruits to ripe. Her subsequent rise to national limelight became her harvest time. She was honoured like Mordecai.
It is true that good people often pass through the eye of the needle. Have you ever wondered why honest people seem to be refined in a furnace of affliction? You need to read Mordecai’s story all over. His integrity as a noble man hurt the eyes of Hamas, who was King Xerxes’s Man Friday. For daring to stand on his feet and refusing the subservient role of a lapdog crawling at the feet of power, Hamas put Mordecai on death list. In fact, Hamas’ uncontrolled rage against Mordecai spewed forth like a viper’s venom. Like Herod who ordered the killing of innocent babies to ward off any opposition to his throne, Hamas plotted to annihilate the entire Jews, possibly to erase the memory of Mordecai. He labelled the Jews as rebellious before the king, who had no sympathy for such offenders.
Gallows of seventy-five feet high were built rapidly near Hamas’ house, where Mordecai and his people would hang. Setting up the gallows near his house was quite instructive. Hamas obviously wanted to look disdainfully at the lifeless remains of Mordecai, and send a clear message to others that death awaits anyone that declines to kiss his feet.
Like most political aides that thrive on sycophantic manipulations, Hamas poured a surfeit of lies into the ears of the king. So, day by day, he sowed hatred of the Jews in the king’s heart and spread his hate speech in the province. Every Jew stood condemned. A decree was passed; a date chosen and couriers dispatched to all the provinces. The message was clear- to destroy, kill and annihilate the Jews, young and old, women and children.
Swords and spears were sharpened to lick the blood of the infidels. Loaded guns waited to tear the flesh of the condemned. Because of one man’s lust for power, the doomsday clock started ticking for an entire nation. The persecution of the righteous shatters the peace of heaven.
Mordecai recruited Esther, who braved death to stand before the lion king. The table turned against Hamas. The gallows he built for Mordecai became his resting place. He met his doom without Mordecai fighting back. Hamas perished with his entire household for plotting against a noble man.
People often fret when they are threatened or oppressed by those in higher authority or influence? When politicians unleash their hunting dogs on those that oppose their ways, they feel that the world rests on their feet. Power is transient, and those privileged to serve should not arrogate themselves the title of lord. They are mere tenants in the corridors of power. I know that in Nigerian politics, fair is foul and foul is fair. Politicians go at length to strangle their perceived enemies, real or imagined.
We must not be deterred by the antics of the wicked. The silence of good people cause more harm than the actions of evil men. Opposition to tyranny is the duty of the righteous. When the unjust ruler spits fire on you for opposing evil, fear not. Be at peace. As the scripture says, “Be still and know that I am the Lord” (Psalm 46:10).
Do you feel forsaken in life? Heed the advice of David in Psalm 50:15, “Call on me (God) in the days of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honour me.” If God could make a king restless at night for the sake of poor Mordecai, he would surely make all things work out for your good. The grass to grace story of Joseph fills me with confidence that God makes no mistake. Even from the prison, God made a way for him to go to the palace.
Remember how the cupbearer forgot Joseph, after he had interpreted his dream of return to Pharaoh’s table. Joseph had pleaded with him thus: “But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness, mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of the prison (Exodus 40:16). The Bible records that three days later, the Chief Cupbearer was released from prison as foretold by Joseph. He returned to luxury and forgot the misery of Joseph in the dungeon.
For three years, Joseph lived in a hellhole until the word of God proved him true. At the appointed time, the prison gates opened. Pharoah had a dream which no one could interpret. The Chief Cupbearer remembered Joseph. God has the power to make you relevant before the king that had once despised you. As the Bible says, “the heart of the king is in the hands of God” (Proverb 21: 1-3).
God would keep in perpetual discomfort those that persecute you. The book of Daniel records that Darius, king of Babylon could not sleep when Daniel was cast into the lion’s den (see Daniels 6:18). He spent the night without eating and without any entertainment because a good man has been thrown into a chamber of torture. No persecution of a child of God goes without retribution. God avenges the cause of his people. Trust him.
I want to assure you that your day of reward will come. Keep doing the good work. Don’t feel disappointed. Now is the season of restoration. God honoured Mordecai in the past. It is your turn today. Shalom!