For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This

By Sherry Bullock.

Esther’s story is the orphan’s story. And the orphan’s story is the King’s story. Born into exile in Persia, far from her homeland of Israel, the early years of Esther’s life read like a series of unfortunate events. Tradition states that she was orphaned as a baby and cared for by her cousin, Mordecai. But as a young teenager, she was taken from Mordecai’s home and placed in the palace as part of the king’s harem, where she had the potential to become the Queen of Persia. She just had to be chosen. 

And she was. The king chose Esther. If this were a fairy tale, it would end here. The reader would cheer for the orphan, for her beauty, for the “luck” of being chosen by the king, and put the book back on the shelf. But this isn’t about the king. He’s an extra. 

Esther’s story is about being chosen by God. And God is the Author of all of our stories. And yet…

Esther is the only book in the Bible where God’s name is not mentioned. It’s as if God dares the reader to investigate and see for himself if He is at work. We have all the classic characters, though: a young maiden. A king. An evil antagonist. A plot that twists with rising action and dramatic tension. But it’s not a fairy tale. It’s the biography of a girl, an orphan, chosen by the King of all Kings, to redeem not only her, but an entire nation through her.

Her name means both secret/hidden and star. Even her name is a clue that God was there. It’s easy to read the Bible and think the miracles and hand of God that are so evident with people like Moses or Joseph or Paul aren’t that relevant today. Because we observe their lives in hindsight; with perfect clarity of God working the end from the beginning. It’s summarized for us. We read it in black and white on the pages of His Word. And we believe it. 

But it’s much harder, in our own trials, to see Him: to see the past the Esthers in our stories to the King–to see God’s hand in the lives of the disenfranchised–to hear His voice in the middle of the pain–before the rescue–to see stars in darkness or God’s light shining from secret and hidden places. 

To hear the light echo the words of Joseph after being sold by his brothers into slavery: “But what you meant for evil, God intended for good.” 

Light echoing the words of Job: “He sets on high, those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” 

Light echoing the words of Jesus: “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”

It’s hard to see when you’re in the midst of the struggle. So, God provides us practice in the book of Esther. Here, His hand isn’t directly revealed either. His name isn’t mentioned once. But God takes our hand, nevertheless, and says, “Look–look again–here I am at work. I dare you to not see it.” 

And we see it. 

Then we close the book and step outside and stare in wonder at the stars shining through the secret and hidden places of the universe and He declares anew, “Look–look again–here I am at work. Just like I was with Esther and Job and Joseph. I dare you to not see it.” 

And we see it. 

And when we return to our homes or our dorms or the corner of the street or the king’s palace, where choices are made for us and they aren’t always good…where we lay down for the night and will our eyes to close, and beg our mind to block out our past or our present… God gently whispers once more, “Look. Look again. Here I am at work. I dare you to not see it. I need you to see it. I am at work–in every detail–in every joy and every sorrow–and I love you. Look.” 

Do we see it?

At the climax of Esther’s story, when evil Haman is trying his best to orchestrate the annihilation of the entire remnant of Persian Jews, Mordecai demonstrates his unshakable faith in God to save them by asking Esther to advocate for her people before the king. To do so is against the law. To do so could be her death sentence. But he isn’t deterred. “For if you keep silent at this time,” he says to Esther, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place…And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 

For such a time as this. 

Esther’s story is the orphan’s story. It’s God’s story. It’s everyone’s story. 

Because without God, we are all orphans. And His sovereign hand will move to finish His plans with or without us. But, in His grace, He invites us to participate. 

In God’s book, there is no chance. There are no blank pages where He is curious about what will happen. The end was written before the beginning. There is no pain that is wasted or life too dark to redeem. There is no fatherless. There is nothing fortunate or unfortunate. There is only God at work in our lives and working all things together for His purposes. And His purposes are always good. 

Still, it can be hard to see. 

Nearly all of Esther’s life was chosen for her and outside of her control. And God could and would have saved the Jews another way if she were not willing to join His plan. But He chose her, an orphan. He invited her to participate. Esther’s Creator, and the Author of her story, asked her to look and see Him at work and to recognize the beautiful role she would play in it.

The same circumstances that others might have viewed as unlucky at best and tragic at worst, were redeemed for good. Nothing was wasted. Not one moment of her life. And Esther, in her obedience, chose God back. A girl who had no choices–a girl who was told where to live and whom to love–she chose God back. 

She said yes. She said yes to Mordecai’s request. She said yes to God’s hand gently guiding her from the secret places where He works all things together for good. And when she chose Him, He took the tiniest step to the side and smiled as she became a momentary star on His remarkable stage for the redemption of her people.

The king listened. And the Jews were saved.

And who knows? Who knows whether or not we were placed right where we are–each of us–the orphan and star, the cousin who supported her, and the king who had the authority to make things better–each one of us–right where we are–for such a time as this?

His sovereign hand will move to finish His plans with or without us. Relief and deliverance will rise for His people. But, in His grace, He invites us to participate–

To choose to join Him in working all things for good–

Each of us–

For such a time as this.