Last week I was invited to speak at APU and at Forest Home. Since I didn’t feel I could pull off two separate talks, I spoke about the book of Esther at both, each with a different take away. In doing so, I feel like I’ve been living with her story for the past month or so and figured I might as well get a blog out of it:)
If you haven’t read it recently, please do. It’s ten chapters and reads through like a short story. We meet young Esther in the middle of her already tragic life. Both her parents have died and she is forced to live in the King’s harem. Eventually she has to risk her life by meeting with the King to save her people.
What fascinates me about Esther is that it is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God. He literally doesn’t “show up” in the story at all. There are no miracles, no speaking to anyone, no tangible representation period. One writer I read described it as an “unreligious book” since there is no mention of temple, the law, not even a prayer is spoken…
I appreciate this context because I find it is more like the setting we live in. God doesn’t usually show up in our lives the way we read about in scripture. He doesn’t perform spectacular miracles or speak to people in the way we often wish He would. Just as Esther must have looked at her circumstances and wondered, “God are you there?” We, too, wonder the same thing.
When we read Esther’s story from our vantage point, it’s crystal clear that God was working behind every circumstance to accomplish His purpose. We can see His hand moving behind the scenes in the smallest details at each turn. Since Esther wouldn’t have known this in the moment, she had to live by faith. For her, this meant making decisions and taking action without knowing the outcome. I believe we call this courage.
There’s this moment in Ch 4:16, when Esther decides she is going to put her life on the line. She tells her uncle to have everyone fast for three days on her behalf and then she will go to the King. It occurred to me this week that Esther didn’t wait for the results of the fast, she committed to her plan regardless. She didn’t fast in order to hear what she should do next, but made her choice ahead of time and fasted as a request for success. There’s a big difference.
God doesn’t always expect us to wait for confirmation or signs. Sometimes, we are meant to seize the moment and trust Him to be in the details on the other side. Just as God doesn’t tangibly appear in the book of Esther, she doesn’t say anything about Him, either. It’s only by her action that we see where her trust lies. In the same way, I wonder if our ability or inability to use courage often reveals something about our own faith. In a way, courage is an outward expression of an inward belief. We either trust Him with our steps or we don’t.
Easier said then done;)
…. What about you? Any thoughts on courage or taking action?