The Bible is full of stories of real people who face real challenges. One such story is about a young Jewish girl who becomes an orphan. Later, as a grown woman, she confronts a corrupt and proud politician who uses his position for personal gain. It’s a story with a bleak future unless God steps into the picture. But God does step in. He uses this orphan and her cousin, two ordinary people, to accomplish remarkable things in their country. As we review her story, you’ll see some similarities to your own, as well.
Years before our heroine, Esther, was born, Babylonia was the dominant world empire. Following its conquest of Israel, many Jews were taken to Babylon as captives. Now, in the time of Esther, Persia is dominant on the world scene. At some point in Esther’s life, her parents die, leaving her an orphan. Her cousin, Mordecai, takes her into his home and raises her to become a beautiful young woman.
As we’ve witnessed so often in our days, kings and rulers abuse their powers and turn into tyrants. Such is the case with the king of Persia. At a state party, he becomes furious with his queen and, with a wave of his hand, deposes her. His advisors suggest he hold something like a Miss Universe pageant to select a new queen. Without regard for the girls’ feelings, Esther and the others are rounded up and taken to the king’s palace to compete. Esther has already lost her parents. Now she loses her freedom and the security of her cousin’s home. Where is God when she needs Him? Why does He allow her to be ripped away from her cousin? We ask similar questions of God’s wisdom when life takes a hard turn.
Esther wins the king’s heart and is selected to be his new queen. But God isn’t simply blessing her with a life of ease in the palace. His intentions come into clearer focus once the villain of the story is introduced. His name is Haman. Mordecai offends Haman and he retaliates by devising a plot to kill every Jew throughout the Persian kingdom. Mordecai pleads with Esther to speak to her husband in defense of the Jews, but she hesitates for fear of her life. Mordecai tells her, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” She suddenly realizes that God has, indeed, given her a unique opportunity to influence the king. Refusing to let fear stand in her way, she approaches the king and thwarts Haman’s evil plan. She saves the lives of Jews throughout the kingdom.
The book of Esther is far more than the story of two ordinary people standing up for justice. Even though God’s name is never mentioned in the book, you clearly see His involvement from behind the scenes. You may not have a spot on the world’s stage like she did, but God has placed you in this world “for such a time as this.” He will strengthen you to come alongside others and help them in the midst of their trials. It was fearful for Esther to take action, and it may be for you, as well. But the same God who helped Esther will help you!