And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? Esther 4:14
For those that like Bible trivia, Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God. Yet, the whole story is written with language that shows us the faith of the individuals and how God was working through them. It is what makes this story so relatable. We can see ourselves in Esther and Mordecai as they overcome insurmountable odds to save their entire nation through their trust in God. They had faith that God had them where He wanted them for a specific purpose. It helps us to ask the very same question of ourselves: is God preparing us for such a time as this?
On this Pentecost Sunday, is God preparing our hearts for such a time as this? God has something big planned for you. He has placed you for this specific time for a specific purpose. Will you be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance today?
I’m a father of three young women. One of them is graduating from high school today. Reading Esther this week, my heart couldn’t help but turn its attention to my firstborn and wonder how God might use her.
Esther affirms that God also uses faithful, wise, and sacrificial women (not just men) in some of the most significant plays in his mission to remake the world. As my firstborn begins a new journey, I am confident she will not be sidelined but will have an important part to play in what God is doing. By God’s grace and leadership, she can and will rise above the status quo and cultural norms. She will press the envelope, ask the discerning question, and make the move(s) that matters.
Reading Esther gave me a God-sized vision for my high school graduate and her sisters. I couldn’t help it, it jumped off the page.
“While they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”
Have you ever been asked a question like this from someone who could in fact completely answer and deliver on the promise connected to it?Anything? Everything?Queen Esther shows great wisdom and patience in her response. (Actually the second time she has been asked by the king). Made her think and process what she wanted, needed, what she was desperate to request. Separates the urgent from the important and the temporal from the long lasting. Her answer/request ends up being bigger than herself- her people and their lives.
Reminds me of Jesus’ words in Luke 18. “What do you want me to do for you?”
How would you answer Jesus’ question?How would that sound in your prayers?Can you say the words of an honest and desperate request?Would they be all about you or something larger and longer?Ask, seek, and knock for the Lord is listening and inviting an honest conversation and request!!
Have you ever looked around at your life and thought, “This is not how I thought it would turn out”? I doubt that as a little girl, Esther dreamed with any seriousness of being a queen. I doubt that Mordecai foresaw the role he would play in saving the Jewish people. On the flip side, though, I doubt that Esther ever thought she would have to risk her life for a nation, and I doubt Mordecai knew that there would be a plot from the palace to take his life.
Things often don’t turn out like we thought they would – sometimes there’s more joy than we imagined, sometimes there’s more fear and grief. Sometimes life makes a lateral move – leaving us with apathy or disappointment we didn’t see coming. In all of it, though, the Lord is present. Esther shows us that if we have heads up, staying alert to the movement of the Spirit, the Lord will use us to do miraculous things to accomplish his purposes – things we never thought possible.
If life hasn’t turned out the way you thought, that doesn’t mean the Lord is not near. He has not left you. How might the Lord be working in the circumstances you find yourself in? If you wake up to the movement of the Spirit, what surprising Kingdom work will lay before you?
“Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?”
Does it seem to you that people in power are often the last to know about any number of important matters? In the Bible, Achish king of Gath happily received David – in his outlaw period on the run from Saul – as a trustworthy vassal while David systematically executed raids on all the king’s allies, annihilating their cities. The king’s administration was dubious of David’s loyalty, but the king himself reveled in his supposed good fortune. David in turn, years later, turned out to be the last to know of his own infant son’s death. Those surrounding monarchs and potentates frequently shield their overlords from unpleasant news. The same held for Ahasuerus. He thought Haman was great. King Jesus is the one ruler who’s in the know.
Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request vs. 3
Speaking truth to power is an oft-used trope throughout scripture. Esther is one of the greatest examples of this theme. The concept is simple – tell the truth; the execution is often perilous. Truth telling when you are in agreement carries no consequences. Truth telling in the face of opposition or in disagreement with social norms carries extraordinary risk. In order to get to this position one must be confident that telling the truth is worth the reprisal, including death. Earlier in the story Esther tries to obfuscate, but she is reminded of a need and purpose that exceeds her personal comfort or protection.
Esther had truth on her side, but that did not guarantee her safety, but that is what made the decision to speak on behalf of her people all the more righteous. How often do you find it easier to sit on the sidelines and let things go rather than speak the truth? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about engaging in a social media rant. No one has EVER won a FaceBook argument. I’m talking about having the courage to speak, in love, about what you know to be true about Jesus without knowing how that courage will cost you. We need more Esthers.
and he requested for himself that he might die. vs 4
I love when the Bible is raw. God didn’t hold back from the difficult conversations, nor did he guarantee us that all things will be perfect in our lives. Rather, He gave us a glimpse into the reality that there will be difficult days ahead. He even provides for us answers to these difficult days: Rest.
From Genesis to Revelation, God makes rest a priority. He designed Sabbath for us. He knew that we have a tendency to run ourselves into the ground. True Christ followers tend to be especially guilty of this. We are servants who pour out of ourselves into others a whole lot more than we take in. We keep busy making sure that our family is taken care of and our friends’ needs are met, with little time for self-care. If we continue this path, we will find days where we are so spiritually drained that we reach our tipping point. God’s answer to this is simple: Rest.
Make time this week to take care of yourself even if it means that it inconveniences others. You will serve them better when you get your rest. Sabbath is a command.
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:13-14
I marvel at God’s compassion for Elijah. Coming off of one of the greatest displays of God’s power and glory, Elijah retreats in fear for his life. He is riddled with dire disappointment; he is emotionally spent. If one didn’t know any better, you would think he had run out of faith.
And yet God does not chastise him or judge; no, “Ye of little faith.” Instead, he tenderly and compassionately draws near, providing him exactly what he needs.
Life is not lived solely in Mt. Carmel moments but in the trenches where life is hard, fragile, and faith is stretched. But God is there too, not to condemn, but surprisingly, to compassionately nourish.
We tend to think there is a dichotomy between the spiritual and the physical. We experience mountain top “spiritual” moments, but then life quickly returns to worrying about things that are much more “physical.” Elijah experiences these things back to back. He has this wonderful mountain top moment with the Lord, but then is quickly brought into the visceral experience of running for his life, feeling exhausted and hungry, lonely and depressed.
But this is a false dichotomy. I don’t believe the Lord created us to live in this divided way. As we see with Elijah, the Lord was very near when the mountain top moment had evaporated, ministering to him through food and sleep. Eating and sleeping are not unspiritual. Prayer and worship are not non-physical.
Let’s ditch this divided way of thinking and simply walk with the Lord, inviting him into every inch of our lives. Romans 12:1 (MSG): “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”