This essay is a follow up to the Extraordinary Women of the Bible study. We recommend first completing your lesson and discussing it with your group before reading this post.
Where has God placed you?
By: Amanda Hickernell
We all have moments where we think: Am I in the right spot? What am I doing here? God, is this where I am supposed to be?
I bet Esther had those same thoughts.
Esther was a young orphan girl who was taken into the king’s harem, as one of many candidates to become queen. She was a Jewish girl, but she kept her nationality a secret and underwent twelve months of beauty treatments leading up to her fateful night with the king (Esther 2:12). The odds were against her, but she was chosen to become queen and a great banquet was given in her honor.
Not long afterward, the king issued an irreversible decree to annihilate Esther’s people. What should she do? What could she do? Her only option was to go before the king and plead with him. But that plan was full of holes! First of all, it was illegal to go before the king unsummoned, and would result in death unless he extended his golden scepter. Since the king hadn’t asked for her in 30 days, it was likely that his interest in her had cooled (4:11). Second, the king wasn’t known for his honor and clear thinking, so would he even care for her predicament? After all, the king had divorced the first queen when she wouldn’t appear for his guests during a drunken party (1:12,19). Also, the king didn’t seem to blink when Haman suggested the annihilation of a large people group. He even refused the money Haman offered to enact the decree (3:8-11). Clearly, the king thought only about himself and what pleased him in the moment. Third, going before the king and explaining the situation meant revealing her nationality, which was currently unknown to him. Perhaps if she kept silent, at least her life would be spared?
Esther’s dire predicament reminds us that all people are inherently selfish, and their sinful actions always cause harm to those around them. I’m sure you see that in your life daily. Even the “smallest” of sins causes hurt, stress and disharmony. How careful are you with your words and tone of voice? Do your actions show that you value yourself more than others? Do you spend your time selfishly or lovingly?
Esther was in an impossible situation. Did she have the courage, strength and wisdom to enact a plan that would save her people? Nope! But God did. God provided the opportunity and the resources to accomplish an extraordinary plan. First, God placed Esther in the right place at the right time. To become queen, Esther had “won the favor of everyone who saw her” (2:15) including the commissioners who selected her, the attendants at the palace, the other virgins, and finally, the King. That’s a lot of people to please! It took divine intervention to win over so many. Second, God provided Esther with encouragement and support through her uncle Mordecai. Mordecai likely had a job at the palace, which allowed him to be in the courtyard daily to check on Esther. What a confidence booster to know that someone who loves you is nearby and praying for you! It also allowed him to quickly tell Esther about the horrible decree and give her time to act. Third, God controlled the timing of the events that persuaded the king. During a visit to the palace one day, Mordecai overheard a plan against the king’s life (2:21-23) and notified the guards. The plan was stopped and the king’s life was saved. But Mordecai wasn’t thanked right away. It was actually much later. Between Esther’s two banquets, the King had a sleepless night where he requested the chronicles of his reign to be read to him (6:1). As he listened, he was reminded that Mordecai saved his life and decided to thank and honor Mordecai the next day. This turned out to be the perfect time because it endeared Mordecai to the king and enraged Haman just before Esther revealed the truth.
Only God is sovereign and in control of all things. Only God could have provided all Esther needed to save her people. Do you believe that God is sovereign over your life as well? It can be hard to recognize His provision. I find that when I begin thanking God for every little thing, then I am able to see His provision more clearly. That text message, blog post, sunset, scripture verse, praise song, phone call, nap, gentle breeze and beautiful flower all help to encourage me, convict me, and point me back to God’s power and grace. All those things enable me to do the next right thing.
So when Esther was presented with an opportunity to do an extraordinary thing for God, what did she do? Let’s take a look.
This was the pivotal moment in Esther’s life. This was the moment where she had to choose to obey. She had to choose to trust that God would provide for her future just as He had provided in her past.
Esther chose obedience.
After giving Mordecai her list of excuses, Esther listened to his exhortation. She heard his incredible faith in God’s provision and chose to act. She chose to fast for three days and she chose to go before the king.
Esther was greatly rewarded for her obedience. God not only protected His people from harm, but He gave them victory over their enemies and material gain. Mordecai received a high position (10:3) in the palace as well as great honor and power. Purim was established, which was a yearly celebration of Esther’s actions and God’s provision.
Obedience is a choice that doesn’t happen easily or accidentally. It requires preparation and a reliance on God. In the Old Testament, fasting is associated with inquiring of the Lord (2 Chron 20:3) and humbling yourself before Him (Ezra 8:21). It is a time to set your heart on seeking God (2 Chron 19:3), confessing sin (1 Samuel 7:6), turning from wicked ways and reading God’s word (Jeremiah 36:6-7). Setting our hearts on God fuels our obedience. Filling our mind with God’s word empowers us to turn from our selfish ways and serve those around us. Inquiring of the Lord helps us decipher what job He has for us.
God has placed you in a particular place with a particular job to do. Will you choose to obey? Oftentimes we miss the opportunities He has for us because we are distracted, weary or bored of our daily tasks. Ask God to help you recognize the opportunities He presents. Ask God for the desire to put other’s needs before your own. Ask God to help you love and encourage the person in front of you. After all, they may be asking God for a sign of His existence, and you may be the only person that has ever prayed for them.
Even when we miss the opportunities God gives us, we can be assured that He will accomplish the task another way. But how much more wonderful is it to be a part of His plans? God is sovereign and in control of all things. God has placed you here, “for such a time as this.”