By Cathy Wilson
Scripture tells us that Esther was “taken” (Esther 2:8). Where? To a place not of her choosing – she was taken to a harem! And, she was told to stifle her identity as a Jewish woman.
At first pass, the book of Esther reads like a modern reality TV series. The setting is the Persian palace of Shushan, the abode of dysfunctional King Ahasuerus. In the midst of a victory celebration gone wild, Queen Vashti rebels and is subsequently decrowned. What’s a king to do? Beautiful virgins are gathered from the 127+ provinces within the kingdom to compete for the Queen’s crown. All receive gift certificates for a year’s worth of beauty treatments. (Who said Day Spas are the latest craze?) Might we see such a script on TV next season under the title of “Persian Idol”? I wouldn’t be shocked!
A superficial read through the book causes me to ask, “Where’s God?” But as I digest the Scripture, I see God on every page! He is the main character! Any dismissal of the Almighty from this chronicle is a problem at the human level. The book of Esther speaks to God’s providence as He, who is immortal and invisible, sovereignly controls everything for His purposes.
What about Esther herself? What am I to learn personally from this Jewish woman? I am smacked with layer upon layer of inner beauty. As she is “taken” and instructed to conceal her Jewish lineage, Esther abides by the wishes of those in charge, exercising verbal restraint and control. I see her strength and dignity on display, along with a continually teachable spirit. In the face of aggressive competition, Esther displays unselfish modesty and authenticity. This woman is clothed with supernatural confidence while submitting to all authority. Bottom line – Esther is comfortable in her own skin! Am I? (I’m not going to answer!)
During the incredibly stressful process of this Persian beauty pageant, Esther is not motivated by greed. She is satisfied with the advice from her “coach,” and she shows grace to all who cross her path! Who is this woman? It gets better. As Queen, she rejects any thoughts of supreme power and continues to listen to the counsel of her cousin, Mordecai. She waits upon her dictatorial husband while risking her life, and overnight becomes the spokeswoman for her people, whom she can now acknowledge.
Esther requests a banquet, where we imagine that she will plead for the lives of her people. But she does not plead at all – instead, she requests a second banquet. I’m perplexed. Then I realize that Esther is exercising “God room.” The plot is – not to plot – on the part of Esther. She is waiting on God to enter in and orchestrate the events. Esther does not rush in and manipulate; rather, she remains poised in the “pause” and lets God be God.
What about me? “Oh, Lord, please cultivate these qualities in me!” I long to be unsatisfied with the superficial. I want to be moldable in His hands and open to His reproofs. I desire to be totally dependent upon Him – giving God room to act – as I am taken out of my comfort zone. How I pray that, like Esther, I may wait expectantly and joyfully on Him – seated in that “God room”!
Cathy Wilson serves with Chosen People Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona, leading an active Jewish ministry team and sharing the gospel through drama.