The book of Esther is one of those Old Testament books of the Bible which get me excited to read every time I turn to its pages.
Maybe it’s because it’s one of only two books of the Bible named after women.
Maybe it’s because it contains a story of rags to riches, bold moves, risky actions and triumph for the good guys.
Whatever the reason, the book of Esther never disappoints. Each time I read her story, I walk away with a deeper understanding of who God is, how he works and what it looks like to faithfully serve Him and His purposes.
My latest reading of Esther left me with five encouraging (and convicting!) insights that I want to share with you in this blog…
#1 God is always working
The name of God is not mentioned at all in the story of Esther. Not once.
Yet, God’s handprint is so evident throughout her story. From Esther’s entrance into the king’s palace, to becoming a queen and saving her people, we see God’s divine providence at work.
God’s name doesn’t have to be mentioned for Him to show up. He can show up wherever He likes – He’s God! His sovereignty is always in play, even when we don’t see it.
Maybe you feel like God isn’t showing up much in the story of your life. There are no supernatural signs and wonders announcing His arrival, no thunderclaps in heaven as He speaks, or jaw-dropping, eye-popping light from above as His glory shines down.
Let me tell you this – He is still working. It may be hard to see in the natural but if you belong to God, He is moving on your behalf.
It’s in the little things. In the food that appears on the table at every meal, despite money being tight. In the job you go to every day when many others have lost theirs. In the sense of peace and security you feel as God’s hedge of protection surrounds you and your loved ones.
The Lord shows up in your story, every day.
#2 You’re never “not enough”
“Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother.” Esther 2:7a
Esther was an orphan. A lowly Jewish orphan living in exile within the Persian Empire. Given her lot in life, Esther’s future was looking bleak. Until God uses Esther to save the Jews from their deathly fate, as ordered by the king’s right-hand man, Haman.
I bet Esther didn’t consider herself worthy enough to step foot in the king’s palace, let alone become queen and have a hand in delivering God’s people!
God uses the least and most unexpected of people to do the extraordinary to fulfil His purpose.
The question isn’t “are you enough?” The question is, “are you willing?”
#3 Be faithful with the little
“When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem...Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.” Esther 2:8,11
“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.” Esther 2:21-22
From the moment Esther entered the palace, she was under the care of Hegai, the keeper of women in the king’s palace.
Though Esther was under someone else’s supervision, Mordecai didn’t neglect his responsibilities as Esther’s guardian. His faithfulness in this role positioned him at the right place, at the right time, to win favour with the king. The Lord rewarded Mordecai as a faithful steward.
“The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.” Esther 8:2
I believe that like Mordecai, God is watching each of His children and waiting to see whether we’ll be faithful with what He has already given us, rather than pining for what could be. He’s waiting to see whether He can trust us with the little, before giving us more.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21
#4 Obedience requires courage
“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Esther 4:11
Esther knew the right thing to do would be to approach the king and appeal on behalf of her people. But she would have to risk her own life to do so. So, she hesitated. And I don’t blame her!
Obedience isn’t easy.
It often goes against our instinct or cause of reason. It’s usually inconvenient. In Esther’s case, her obedience carried a likely death sentence. And still, she obeyed. For the sake of her people – God’s people.
Though our obedience to God today doesn’t look quite as daring for most of us, it still requires courage. Courage to go against the grain of the world. Courage to not seek approval from others. Courage to do things other people may not understand.
The good news is, we don’t need to summon up that courage ourselves, it comes from God.
#5 Mourning is only momentary
“When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.” Esther 4:1
“When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.” Esther 8:15-16
In the space of 4 chapters in the book of Esther, we see Mordecai go from mourning to rejoicing. From sackcloth to royal linen. The Jews are redeemed from their ill fate, giving them reason to celebrate!
It’s a beautiful reminder that our seasons of mourning, pain, and suffering are temporary. A reminder that our sorrow will be turned into joy.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of hope I need to get through each day in my darkest seasons. Knowing that my mourning will be replaced by dancing gives me the strength to look forward to tomorrow. How do I know? Because I’ve lived it. That season doesn’t last forever.
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
What other insights and lessons have you drawn from your reading of the book of Esther? Please leave a comment below and share!