Winter casts a cold shadow. The days are short. The nights are long. The sun seems shy, hidden behind the grayness of the days. Warmth has packed her bags and migrated to the tropics. Beach weather would be nice. But that’s clearly not going to happen anytime soon.
Winter brings danger. Blizzards. Ice storms. Broken pipes and slippery sidewalks. Caution is the theme. Come springtime, and you will run barefoot through the meadow and plunge into the pond. But now? It’s best to button up, zip up, stay in, and stay safe.
Is it winter where you are? Are you trapped in a perpetual gloom? Has life not turned out the way you thought it would? Maybe your finances fizzled. Or your health never recovered. Or a friend never returned. A Siberian cold has settled over your life.
This study was born in winter—a pandemic that locked down the world. Church doors closed. Students were stuck at home. Masks hid smiles. And in the midst of this trial, an ancient sin threatened to undo us: racism. An officer’s knee on the neck of a black man activated a subterranean anger. A volcano of rage spewed into the streets of most countries.
Many have wondered if this winter season would pass. Perhaps you have wondered if its lingering effects would ever end. If so, God has a six-letter word of encouragement for you:
E-S-T-H-E-R. The book that bears her name was written to be read in wintertime. It was crafted for those who feel outnumbered by foes, outmaneuvered by fate, and outdone by fear.
It’s almost as if God, in his kind providence, heard all our prayers and said, “Follow me. I want you to see what I can do.” He escorts us now to the front row of a grand theater and invites us to take a seat. He nods at the symphony conductor, and all at once the music begins, the curtain opens, and we are eyewitnesses to a masterpiece of divine drama.
The characters of this drama comprise a complex and colorful crew. There is Xerxes, the clueless brute of a king. Haman, the egotistical and bloodthirsty right-hand man who plots to exterminate the entire race of the Jewish people. Mordecai, a Jewish man himself, who realizes he cannot compromise and must take a stand. Esther, our main character, gorgeous and gutsy.
And God . . . well, where is God in this story? Even though the fate of the Jewish people—his chosen people—is at stake, at no point do we read “God said,” or “God chose,” or “God decreed.” There is no mention of the temple or the name Yahweh or Elohim, the Hebrew nouns for God. Why the seeming silence from the Almighty?
Certainly, God has been known to intervene dramatically in Scripture. By his hand the Red Sea opened, the manna fell from heaven, a virgin gave birth, and a tomb gave life. Yet for every divine shout there are a million whispers. The book of Esther relates the story of our whispering God, who in unseen ways superintends all the circumstances for his people. This priceless book reminds us that God need not be loud to be strong. He need not cast a shadow to be present. He is still eloquent in his seeming silence . . . and active when he appears distant.
The theme of the book of Esther—and indeed, the theme of the entire Bible—is that all the injustices of the world will be turned on their head. Grand reversals are God’s trademark. When we feel as though everything is falling apart, God is working in our midst, causing everything to fall into place. He is the King of quiet providence, and he invites you and me to partner with him in his work. For each of us has a part to play in his grand drama.
The headline of the book of Esther reads: Relief will come. But the story also reveals that God will call us at times to walk onto the stage, step into the spotlight, and take bold risks to make that relief come to pass. He will raise us up “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). The question is not whether God will act . . . but whether we will step out in faith when he does.
You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today and Hope for Tomorrow
In this five-session video Bible study, pastor and author Max Lucado will help you:
- reclaim your eternal identity as a citizen of heaven,
- put your hope in the God of grand reversals,
- cultivate courage for your challenging times, and
- discover your role in God’s story.
You don’t need to become undone by tough times. You can become unleashed by our triumphant God. You, friend, were made for this moment.