Remember when you were younger and the biggest question it seemed you would ever face was, “What am I going to be when I grow up?” Then again… maybe you just asked yourself that question yesterday. Any way around it, knowing our purpose in life is one of the core questions for developing our sense of identity.
If only it was really true that the biggest question we had to grapple with was discerning our future career and life aspirations. But in many ways, the most critical question we face comes on a much smaller scale!
“What am I supposed to do now?”
Big picture, life-goal and career aspirations pale in comparison to the immense challenges confronting us on a daily basis.
Looking at Esther’s story brings front and center the weight of facing unexpected, real-life struggles. Do you think when Esther was a young girl she had the “typical” dreams of being a princess? Even if she had, I don’t think she could have imagined the manner in which she’d one day be chosen to be queen!
Esther lived during the exile; her family had ended up in Susa as they’d been carried away as captives from Jerusalem. Somehow, of all the possible women, the King chose Esther to be his new queen. And Esther? She had no choice in the matter. In fact, even when she was queen Esther couldn’t even approach the King unless summoned for fear of her life. Esther chapter 4 says she hadn’t seen the king in 30 days.
To make matters worse, Haman, one of the highest officials in the land hated the Jews and was looking to destroy them… Esther and her family were Jewish! What a desperate situation she faced as her cousin Mordecai petitioned her to go before the King on behalf of their people before and plead for their lives.
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.Esther 4: 12-17
Right in that “between a rock and a hard place” kind of moment, Mordecai says to Esther, “Maybe you are here for such a time as this…”
Esther faces that impossible question, “What am I supposed to do now?” With resolve she decides to go before the king knowing, “if I perish, I perish.”
Such a tough story, huh? I’m guessing you know it all turns out: the King hears Esther, protects her people, punishes Haman, and the Jews are saved. But, if even just for a moment, we can remember what it was like to hear that story for the first time. To think of what it was like to have lived it, to stand in the face of such adversity… what it really meant for Mordecai to say: maybe you are here for such a time as this.
God’s people were captive… in exile far from home… and their lives were threatened. Esther faced that situation knowing she was putting her life jeopardy by going before the King unannounced, but the lives of many hung in the balance.
Esther, that girl who became queen wasn’t a powerhouse… she was one small person standing against the tide of evil. She risked her life knowing there was a chance she’d perish.
The lives of God’s people were in danger, their death sentence announced… and this parallels another reality, one of ultimate spiritual importance, where sin has held us captive, announcing our guilt and the sentence is death. And Jesus was born and came to live as Emmanuel, God with us, for such a time as this…
I’m shaken by the bravery of Esther, standing on behalf of her people. And even more so caught in awestruck wonder by Jesus, who came to give His life as a ransom for many. Jesus, knowing how he would suffer… Jesus, knowing the betrayal and pain He would endure… Jesus, who knew he would perish to save us… Jesus brought the light of life for us!