By J.A. Medders
At first, it might be difficult to connect with the details of young Esther’s story. My own day-to-day life is far removed from harems, twelve months of beauty treatments, one-night auditions for the king, and eunuchs. But after pausing to consider the events unfolding in this book, I believe there is something that we have in common with the central figure here. Like Esther, we don’t get to map out every detail of our lives.
As much as we like to think we plan our own stories, make our own way, and achieve our own dreams, it’s just not true. Almost never. It is safe to say that Esther’s life is not what she had in mind as a little girl—orphaned, adopted by her cousin Mordecai, and now part of a harem in a foreign land. We just aren’t in control of our stories. Isn’t this consistent with biblical testimony? Job could never have imagined the pain and loss in his life. Joseph had big dreams, but he didn’t know that the betrayal of his brothers was a key plotline for his life’s work. The apostle Paul was heading in one direction, and then in a flash of light, everything changed. This is how life comes at us—fast. The story arcs of our lives are not in our control, but that doesn’t mean they are out of control. We, like Esther, are in the providential hands of God.
When Esther, now numbered among the harem, is called to for her night with the king, she entrusts herself to Hegai, the eunuch in charge, and takes his recommendation on how she should prepare. The result? “Esther gained favor in the eyes of everyone who saw her,” most notably, King Ahasuerus (Esther 2:15). The next result? Esther is crowned as the queen. Again, life tends to unfold unexpectedly, changing and shifting in ways we might not have anticipated.
What we see happening with Esther is a shadow of what happens to every Christian exile in this fallen world. The Greek word charis, meaning “favor” or “grace,” comes upon lowly sinners in the hands of God. This grace raises us up, renews us, and transforms us for kingdom work the likes of which we never could have imagined. Esther did not simply take matters into her own hands; she listened to, considered, and followed the words and wisdom of another. And in the end, she was given a position that would save her people in the future.
Brothers, we, too, are exiles. We follow the words of another: God’s holy Word. We don’t take our lives into our own hands, but instead recognize that our position in the royal family of the crucified and risen King is by grace alone. We see our lives lodged in the providence of God, leveraged for God’s glory and the good of others. God is writing this story. It comes at us fast, but we can cling to Christ, our Savior.
Written by J.A. Medders