A Cinderella Story
I don’t know about you, but I love a good Cinderella story. I got up at 4:30 AM to make sure I didn’t miss one minute of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It was so magical to see just a normal girl (well she’s a movie star, so not quite a normal girl) marry a prince! I love stories like that, it’s just so great to see something absolutely magical happen to someone just like me (well I guess the only real similarity is that we’re both Americans, but you get what I mean)! Today I’ve got a similar story for you: A small town girl who marries the king and changes the course of an entire nation.
This single lady’s name is Esther. She’s one of two women who have a book of the Bible named after them, so I guess you could say she’s kind of a big deal. Esther definitely didn’t start off with a glamorous life. She was an orphan and was being raised by her cousin Mordecai (Esther 2:7). On top of that, she was a Jew living in a foreign land. So she for sure was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she trusted God to write her story.
Esther’s royal love story starts out a little differently that Meghan Markle’s. Esther wasn’t introduced to the King by friends, she was recruited to be part of a yearlong beauty pageant designed to find King Xerxes a new queen. She lived in the palace and was pampered with spa treatments for months until it was her turn to meet the king. While this may sound amazing, it was probably pretty scary. See, the king was only looking for a new queen because he had banished the old queen after she did something he didn’t like (Esther 2:19). I think it’s safe to say the king probably had a bit of an anger problem. In fact, if she visited the king or talked to him without him first asking for her, she would be killed.
God was with Esther and blessed all that she did. The king ended up liking Esther better than any of the other women in the pageant. He decided to make her the queen (Esther 2:17). The king threw a banquet, gave her a crown and even had a holiday created just for her (Esther 2:18).
While all this partying was going on Esther’s cousin Mordecai overheard one of the king’s men, Haman, plotting to kill all of the Jews. Esther had no idea that all of this was going on. Mordecai was so distraught at the news that the king was planning to kill the Jews that he sat by the gates of the city and wept loudly for days. His heart was absolutely breaking (Esther 4:1). He cried so loudly, for so long and made such a scene, that work eventually got back to Esther in the palace (Esther 4:4).
Mordecai begged Esther to go to the king and plead for her people to be saved. Esther was afraid, she reminded Mordecai that she would be killed if she just waltzed into see the king and didn’t wait for him to ask for her to see him (Esther 4:10).
I absolutely love Mordecai’s response to this. He says, “If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else (Esther 4:14).” Mordecai has complete confidence in God and knows that God has a perfect plan for the Jews, with or without Esther’s help. Mordecai then says, “And who knows, maybe you were made queen for such a time as this.” Wow! I want to have a faith like that! Even in the worst possible circumstances, Mordecai is sure that God has a plan and that God is working all things together for the good of his people.
Esther’s response shows her character and depth of faith. She asks Mordecai to gather the Jews together and to have them fast and pray for her three days (Esther 4:16). At the end of the three days she will go to the king and ask for him to spare the Jewish nation. I think it’s amazing that prayer was her instant response. I think I’ve mentioned before that I tend to be a planner. When faced with hard times I want to immediately jump into research mode and figure out what I can do to change things. I usually feel comforted if I can make a spreadsheet or checklist that I think will solve my problem (it’s totally normal to be comforted by spreadsheets right?). Notice how all my responses involve me, and me making things happen. Turning to God needs to be my #1 response to any problem no matter how big or small.
After the three days of fasting and praying, Esther throws a feast for the king and Haman. She was a wise woman who knew the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. She figured a few appetizers and glasses of wine would help her tough request go down easier. Then, Esther literally takes her life in her hands and calls out the king’s friend Haman who is plotting to destroy the Jews (Esther 7:3). She tells the king that she is a Jew, so Haman has put her in danger. The king was enraged that Haman would threaten the life of his new queen and her people. At this point the tables turn pretty quickly. The king wants to kill Haman as punishment for his evil plan. Haman drops to his knees and began begging Esther to spare his life (Esther 7:7)! Esther felt powerless and scared for her life when the dinner started, and by the end she was the one who held all the cards.
This is how quickly things can change when we take a step of faith and trust God. No matter how hopeless things seem continue to trust and follow Him. You have no idea the effects that your actions of faith can have. In Esther’s case she saved an entire nation! Esther and Mordecai’s actions of faith have been celebrated by the Jews for years. They literally are legends in their culture.
Now there’s a Cinderella story for you!