In Israel’s history, the sign that God was present and active in the Israelites’ lives was their place in the Promised Land. During the story of Esther, however, the Israelites were in exile, away from the Promised Land. For them, being away from the Promised Land would make the Israelites feel like God was not present or active in their lives.
Did you know that God is not mentioned in the book of Esther… not anywhere. Knowing that the Israelites were in exile (away from the Promised Land and the assumed presence of God) and seeing that God was not talked about throughout the book of Esther, you would think that God’s presence was absent from the Israelites’ lives during this time.
Where does it seem like God is or has been absent in your life?
Back to the story of Esther… throughout the book, even though God is not mentioned specifically, you can’t help but see God at work throughout the entire story.
STORY TIME: the story of Esther…
Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) uncovers Haman’s (the king’s assistant’s) plot to kill Mordecai and all the Jews in the empire. When Mordecai finds out about Haman’s plans, he informs Esther (who just happens to be the king’s wife) what has happened and tells her to intercede with the king. She does this and gets the king to honor Mordecai, therefore, saving Mordecai from Haman’s plot. In the end, Haman is actually killed the same way he had planned to kill Mordecai. Through Mordecai and Esther’s actions, all the Jews were saved in the empire.
Read Esther 4:12-16.
Did you notice that the author of Esther tells us that people fasted, but did not mention that this fasting and prayer was directed toward God? The absence of this detail (the presence of God during fasting) is a rhetorical device that is consistent with the rest of the book of Esther.
The author is trying to show us that even though God cannot be found in the book of Esther, God is present and active throughout the story of Esther.
Take some time to think back over the recent events in your life.
As you re-look at the story of your life, how has God been trying to shape you? What has God been trying to teach you or do for your good?
Read Romans 5:1-5.
In verse 5, the phrase “has poured out” (referring to God’s love) comes from a verb in the original Greek language that indicates a present status resulting from a past action. When we first believed in Christ, the Holy Spirit poured out his love in our hearts, and his love for us continues to dwell in us. The final phrase in verse 5, “whom he has given us” (referring to the Holy Spirit) shows us that all true believers have the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is present and active in our lives even if we don’t recognize it right away.
Sometimes, life can feel a bit like the story of Esther, where at first glance God does not seem to be present and active. But when we remember the promise from Romans that “hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us,” we are reminded that we can trust God’s presence and action in our lives.
It can take some time to notice God’s presence in the situations in our lives.
We need to trust that God is there, working throughout our joys and trials, our good days and our bad, even when his presence is not felt.
“People of faith don’t expect immediate rescue from trials, we ask for it, we hope for it, we even work for it, but we leave the results to God.” – George Haraksin