Esther is a pretty cool book in the Bible and I seem to find myself opening up to it here and there. I enjoy reading through specific parts of it, recapping all that Esther went through and her bravery and faithfulness to God and her people. However, a few days ago, there was something that stuck out to me in the book of Esther that I had never noticed before.
Many of us know the story of Esther, in some form or other, and we often focus on her bravery to save her people by going before the king uninvited. After all, most of us are drawn to bravery and courage, so I’m not surprised. But, what I found is that there’s another part of this story that shows bravery. It’s more subtle and less climactic, but I am discovering that it’s truly just as important as the end of the story.
I guess I always sorta skimmed over the beginning of the book of Esther. It talks about how King Ahasuerus is reigning over twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1), that his queen would not come to his party when he commanded her to do so (Esther 1:12), how then the queen’s royal position was to be given away to another (Esther 1:19), and so all the young maidens of the land were brought to “the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the woman” (Esther 2:2). So, here is where I normally just read on and don’t pay much attention, but for some reason the upcoming verses stuck out:
“Now the young woman (Esther) pleased him (Hegai), and she obtained his favor, so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women. Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai (her uncle and guardian) had charged her not to reveal it. And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the womens quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her. Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus… Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace… Now when the turn came for Esther… to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her… The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight… so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen…”
Esther 2:9-17 (I jumped around in these verses and added some of my own description. Feel free to read the full version in your Bible.)
Ok, so let’s talk about what I found so interesting. I had never noticed before how obedient, respectful and trusting Esther was. We don’t know a lot about Esther’s relationship with Mordecai, aside from the fact that he is her uncle and guardian; but it’s incredibly apparent that Esther heeds his guidance without hesitation. He told Esther to not reveal her people to anyone and she trusted that request. Also, Hegai, the custodian of the women, took Esther under his wing and she willingly followed his expertise on how to go before the king.
Both of these individual moments are what bring forth the ending of the book of Esther. Had she not been brave enough to place herself under the guidance of other indivuals, she may have revealed who her people were and perhaps would have presented herself unpleasingly to the king. She knew the best thing to do was to submit to her guardian, Mordecai, and to trust the man, Hegai, whose sole job was to prepare her to go before the king. She didn’t try to do things her own way or be a rebel. She settled into trust.
Whew. Settled into trust. This is it! This is what got to me when I was reading about Esther… she was so willing to trust! And, I know that doesn’t mean it was easy for her. I know if you go on to read you’ll see that she fasts and prays to try to decide if she really should go before the king to save her people… I’m sure it was terrifying. But, you can see from the very beginning of the book that Esther knows how to trust someone else!
And that’s what really got me thinking. Esther put faith in the man that was her guardian. Esther put faith in the man whose expertise would help her win the favor of the king. And here’s where I put the pieces together: Esther trusted her guardian and the individual who had the knowledge of how she needed to present herself at that moment in time. So, if I turn this lens on my life; if I look at how this translates to something I can learn from, here’s what I got: God is my guardian. God is the expertise on how I should be presenting myself in life right now…
God is the guardian of my life and the expert on my life. If that’s true, then here’s the real kicker… shouldn’t I be putting more faith and trust in God about how to live my life than in my own ideas and desires? Esther knew how to submit to another’s decisions, and I want to be able to do the same with God! I want to be able to say to God: “Your heart for me as your daughter is real, and I want to trust the way you protect me. You are my guardian, so I submit to step into or out of situations that you see fit. You, God, are the expert on how to live life, so I want to trust your knowledge in even the smallest parts of my existence.”
I really want to be like Esther! I want to submit to my guardian, God! I want to put my faith in the expertise of the man upstairs! I know this might seem like simple stuff, but it’s funny how often it isn’t. If we were chatting face to face right now, I’m sure we could both share with each other of times in our lives when it was really hard to believe God was doing the best thing for us. I’m sure we could both bring up times that we didn’t like the things God was asking us to leave behind. But, that’s exactly what Esther did. from the beginning of her story we see her trusting Mordecai’s direction, and then not taking anymore with her than that which the expert, Hagai, recommended to please the king. And, because she trusted from the start, she was able to trust when the stakes were higher; when her guardian asked her to reveal her family background to save a nation! It was hard, and she didn’t do that without a lot of prayer and fasting, but she did heed the proper direction, because she had a heart ready and willing to submit and trust.
God’s not surprised by the things that come up in my life. I may be, but He isn’t. I’ve been caught off guard more than once by life events, both good and bad, as I’m sure Esther was becoming queen and later having the power and opportunity to save her people. But, the thing is, the more we practice submitting and trusting God, the less shocked we may become by life’s happenings; because the more we practice, the more we’ll learn that God knows exactly what He’s doing. God has a plan for each and every one of us, and there are steps of faith we’ll have to take to get there. Esther didn’t become queen overnight. Heck, she had to have twelve months of beauty treatments, and then it wasn’t even until after she became queen that the realization of the bigger picture of being able to save her people came to light.
In the very same way, there may be many chapters of our life that we don’t yet see how all the pieces fit together, and that is our biggest test of submission and trust. I want to practice, I want to get good at this. I want to get good at this trust thing. ‘Cause when it comes to God, I promise, he knows what He’s doing.