The Bible is full of stories of real people who faced real challenges. One such account is that of a young Jewish girl named Esther. After her parents died she was raised by her cousin, Mordecai [more-dah-kye]. She lived in the Persian capital city of Susa about 500 years before Christ. Hers is a remarkable story of God’s intervention, mixed with her winsomeness and boldness.
At a state party, King Xerxes (some versions use his other name – Ahasuerus),became furious with his queen and, with a wave of his hand, deposed her. His advisors suggested he hold something like a Miss Universe pageant to select a new queen. Liking this idea, he ordered all the attractive young unmarried women throughout his empire to be brought to his palace. Esther is among those rounded up for the competition.
I’m assuming Esther was looking forward to marrying a Jewish man some day and raising a family. All of a sudden, these plans were dashed. If she didn’t become the queen, all her future held was a single life surrounded by other women in the king’s harem.
She had already endured the grief of losing her parents, and now she faced the grief of losing her future plans. This can happen to us as well. She might have voiced confusion, “Where is God when I need Him? Why is He allowing this?” We have a tendency to ask similar questions of God’s wisdom when life takes an unexpected hard turn.
Esther’s winsomeness and beauty won the king’s heart and she was selected as his new queen. God placed her in this position, but it wasn’t simply to give her a life of ease in the palace. God’s intentions began to be seen after the villain of the story is introduced. His name was Haman, and he was a self-righteous political heavyweight in Xerxes’ entourage. He expected all the common citizens to bow before him whenever he passed by. Instead of bowing down, Mordecai remained standing. This infuriated Haman and this bully retaliated by devising a plot to kill every Jew throughout the Persian kingdom (sounds like Hitler). Upon learning of this evil plan, Mordecai pleads with Esther to encourage the king to save the Jews (at this time, the king was unaware that Esther was Jewish).
She hesitated because to barge into the king’s presence could result in death if he didn’t welcome the intrusion (even if you were the queen). In reply, Mordecai said to her, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” She suddenly realized that God had, indeed, given her a unique opportunity to influence the king. She asked people to pray for three days, after which she would approach the king. Her winsomeness and wisdom and boldness set the stage for Haman’s demise and the salvation of Jews throughout the Persian kingdom.
It’s a fascinating story, with many more turns and surprises. But this 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 behind the scenes. What we might consider a “coincidence” was actually the hand of God directing their paths. I encourage you to read the full story in the short book that bears her name.
Esther is not the only one raised up “for such a time as this.” I don’t know if you’ve thought about it, but God has placed you in a unique position to influence others. It is no accident that you live where you do, or that you work where you do, or that you go to school where you do, or that you are on the sports teams that you are on. There are people in those circles to whom God wants to use you to communicate His heart and salvation. Perhaps it’s a place you volunteer or a charity designed to help the less fortunate here or abroad. Or it may be that God wants to use your financial resources to help others come to know Him. Whatever it is, today God has been directing you “for such a time as this.”