Esther was my childhood heroine. When a book report required me to dress up like a character, I read a book about Esther, draped myself in a sheet and gaudy costume jewelry, and talked to my classmates. When required to write a paper about my hero, I chose Esther. For as long as I can remember, when someone asked my favorite Bible character, I have always said Esther.
As a child, I probably chose her because she was a queen, and I wanted to be a princess when I grew up—or so I claimed in first grade. But as I grew older, I craved her courage. She risked her life in the hope that others might live. She found this courage because she trusted that God put her in a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific purpose.
God knew His plan for Esther ages before she was born, but she apparently didn’t know until the moment of need arrived. When Mordecai urged her to intercede to the king, she responded that it would be a serious risk to her life. Mordecai sent another message to Esther, “What if God has made you queen for this exact moment, so you could save our people?” At this challenge, she chose to act in faith rather than fear.
Esther’s moment of courage came about five years after she entered the harem. (See Esther 2:12, 16; 3:7). In five years, she might have wondered hundreds of times why she was there.
What does all this have to do with love?
I believe God has specific plans for each of our lives (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 25:12). Those plans always have to do with loving others. Always. (See Romans 13:8–10; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 John 4:11–12). The big picture is clear, but often the details are not.
This is a question our family has been wrestling with. Who does God want us to love? Where? When? How?
I think it’s great when people have a rock-solid certainty of God’s assignment for them. Jesus seemed to. He knew He would suffer. He knew He would save.
But Esther didn’t. When the moment came, she had to decide whether to act in self-interest or love. Only when she was forced to decide did she know what a momentous day it was. It was OK for her not to know God’s plan those five years in the palace because He was in control.
God used her mightily.
That can be my story too.