"If I perish, I perish," said Queen Esther.
In the Biblical Book of Esther, Queen Esther was talking about going before her husband, King Ahasuerus, to plead the case of the Jews, despite not having been summoned to see him — a crime in that era. But her uncle Mordecai was beseeching Esther to go before the king anyway, to save the Jews of Persia, who were about to be slaughtered.
Mordecai appealed to Esther, suggesting perhaps it was God’s will to be in this place at this time to do this act.
"I go in unto the King, which is not according to the law: and if I perish I perish."
This morning at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., the pastor cited this excerpt from the story — the backbone of the Jewish holiday of Purim — and suggested to one particular worshipper, President-elect Barack Obama , that he had been sent to this world to be in the right place at the right time for an important reason, like Rosa Parks, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pastor Derrick Harkins suggested that Mr. Obama could have led a comfortable life in academia, but he had been called to something larger.
"Thank God for the Mordecais in our lives," said Harkins, "those who stir us to do what is right and just."
"Listen to Mordecai," he said to the congregation.
"Perhaps, just perhaps, you are where you are for just such a time," Harkins said to the president-elect. "We can be like this brave woman of scripture…She said, ‘I will go to the king. If I perish, I perish.’
"She was not going because she had a wish for martyrdom," Harkins said. She said, "’I'm going to trust God, no matter what the circumstances are.’
"God has prepared you and placed you," he told Obama. "God will not forsake you. Go forward in prayerfulness and faithfulness."
As an aside, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris took great comfort in the words of Queen Esther during the Florida recount, telling aides, "if I perish, I perish," when discussing her plan to not accept certain ballots.
And during CNN’s Compassion Forum, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., asked her favorite Bible story, said, "I have been — ever since I was a little girl — a great admirer of Esther. And I used to ask that that be read to me over and over again, because there weren’t too many models of women who had the opportunity to make a decision, to take a chance, a risk that, you know, was very courageous."