Queen Esther has been admired by women (and men) through the ages for saving the entire Jewish nation by one heroic act of courage. However, did you realize that when first confronted with the plot against the Jews, Esther’s initial response was one of self-preservation? That’s right; at first, she basically said, “Umm, I think I might be killed if I go before the king without being called for. Nope. New plan.” That doesn’t seem very courageous, does it?
This part of the story actually brings me a little comfort. So many of our “Heroes of the Faith,” great women and men of God who performed amazing feats, often really struggled to step up and do what God was calling them to do. They had doubts, fears, discouragements, obstacles, and were just plain weak at times. Esther was scared, and I get it. So, how did she move from fear to faith?
Enter Mordecai, a relative who really became like a father to Esther when her parents passed away. When Esther sends him that first negative response, Mordecai speaks the truth to her and tells her that she will not escape the evil plan, either, if she doesn’t speak up. He then delivers this famous question to her:
Who knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
Sometimes it truly takes a faithful friend to help us see ourselves and our situation more clearly. They remind us that God is always in control, and that we can overcome obstacles and hardships to act out in faith. Friends and loved ones can spur us on to good works and help us to see God working in our lives (see Hebrews 10:24). We often give Esther all of the credit for her brave act, but how might this story have ended differently if Mordecai had not also bravely pressed her to reconsider her initial response?
Rely on God
After Esther ponders Mordecai’s reply, she knows what she must do. It is still a very risky venture, though, so what is her next step? She asks the Jews to fast with her. She realizes the moment to make her move has come, but she knows that God must make the way. They enter into a time of prayer and fasting for three days.
When faced with difficult circumstances, it’s comforting to remember that we don’t have to muster up the skills or the courage to face them alone. When we go to God, when we truly rely on Him, we are never alone. I believe it’s one of the Lord’s great joys to make a way for His children! But He doesn’t force His help; we must ask for it! There is no doubt that this three-day period of fasting and prayer is an important component in the story of Esther.
Choose to Act
When the time came, Esther was ready to act. I can imagine that her heart was hammering in her chest as her maidens helped her to put on her royal robes. Perhaps her palms were slick and her knees knocking as she rounded the corner approaching the inner court of the palace. Here she was...do or die.
What had gotten her to this pivotal point? It was the true voice of a friend, engaging in prayer and fasting, and finally...a choice. Her choice. She still could have backed down or changed her mind. The move was hers to make, and Esther chose to act. And now, more than two thousand years later, we are still lauding her for her courage.
Is there something facing you today that has you shrinking back? Every time it comes to mind, does a sinking feeling come over you? You know you need to do something, but you just don’t know if you can? Have no fear. Allow a faithful friend to speak life to you, seek the Lord and rely upon the strength that He provides, and choose to act. Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory...(Eph. 3:20-21)