But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14 (ESV)
Since I have no value, my life has no significance, power, or purpose
I’m trapped in a bad situation (marriage, job, family…)
The Book of Esther
Many Christians along with non-Christians have embraced faulty perceptions of the “ideal Christian life.” This dangerous error creates expectations that, when unmet, leave us disillusioned with life and with God. Queen Esther’s life shows us that living smack dab in the center of God’s will may at times appear more gruesome than glamorous. I absolutely love the way Esther’s life fractures the fairy tale façade that once Jesus is embraced, life skips happily down the Christian yellow brick road.
The life of Esther, an orphaned Jewish girl raised by her Jewish uncle, could direct many women to demand refunds from the products purchased at cosmetic counters. Beauty may have appeared more of a curse than a benefit for this young teen whose pretty face herded her and another 126 young teens in into King Ahasuerus’ corral, or harem. Scripture says that Esther “was taken” meaning no volunteer sign-up sheet was used in the selection process. Esther’s new life would be lived out in a far from a happy home environment.
Whether you believe Esther to be the lucky or unlucky pick as queen, she finds herself married to a king who commentator Frederick Bush says he ruled with “the pride and pomposity of buffoons.” That’s not a desirable character trait for any marriage partner, political leaded, family member, or employer.
To those fighting not to despise their spouse, work or family situation, or the political condition of your government, Esther’s story offers us hope. Esther’s life shows us God is at work in the ugliest of situations and able to develop godly character in us despite our less than ideal circumstances.
Esther’s life reminds me not to assume God is negligent, absent, or unloving when life is unjust, circumstances disappointing, and when my desired outcomes are unattainable. Like Esther, I’m discovering God hasn’t abandoned me, even when life is a daily struggle.
Esther invites me to stop fixating on my desired change of circumstances and people and to instead look inwardly at my need to change. When Esther looked beyond the pain of her life to discover a purpose bigger than her own happiness, comfort, and security, her eyes were open to see God’s bigger need, saving a nation. Esther’s words, “If I perish, I perish,” convey the heart of a young woman willing to release her desires to upgrade for God’s. This decision allowed Esther to receive God’s transforming power to conquer fear, speak boldly regardless of the cost, and become an agent of change for God’s kingdom.
God wants to do the same thing in our life as He did in Esther’s. He wants to transform us through our difficulties while accomplishing His plans through our lives. This doesn’t mean we are to resign ourselves to an empty life. It does mean seeing our lives as a platform for God to work. Viewing our lives in this way allows us to offer our lives to God as they are, not as we think they should be. When we realize He redeems our lives from the pit, and that He doesn’t need to clean up others or alter circumstances before He cleans us up, the change process can begin.
Father, I’m thankful that you are not lost in the ideal circumstances that have escaped my grasp, but you are at work in the challenges of my real life. Help me to surrender my desires for the life I want for your greater plans for my life. I ask you to work in the midst of my challenges transforming me into your likeness.
For Discussion and Reflection
Share your thoughts and comments on the following comments:
Some would say when Esther addressed the king her life was in jeopardy (approached a possible death sentence), others say at that moment she was more alive than ever before.
Our problem as believers is really not our circumstances. Our problem is our perspective on our circumstances.
Thought to Ponder
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.
Quotes to Consider
“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life, pg 17