There are many women in the Bible who inspire and encourage me, but none more than Esther. She lived in a dark and troubled time. She was really one of the most marginalised in her situation—a Jewish girl, orphaned and essentially living in as a refugee in the Persian capital of Susa. She is vulnerable to the circumstances around her. Yet, she ends up being one the most politically powerful people in the empire. How? The grace of God. The story of Esther begins after the Exile and after the decree has been given by the Persian king Cyrus that allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. While many characters of the Old Testament chose to return back to Israel and help re-establish the Judean community, for some reason Mordecai and Esther chose not return to Judea but to remain in the Persian capital. We don’t know why they didn’t return to Jerusalem and some people think it was because they were disobedient. Even so, it meant that they were at the right place and at the right time for God to use them. I wont re-tell the story, but encourage you read it in your Bible if you are unfamiliar with it. Its only a few chapters and wont take long. But in summary, an enemy of the Jews (named Haman) has plotted to have all the Jews across the empire massacred. If this were to happen, all Jews (including Joseph and Mary’s family that Jesus eventually came from) would be exterminated. It’s a horrifying thought and unfortunately not the last time that we’ve seen ‘ethnic cleansing’ in our world historically and present. However, the hatred of Haman also had a spiritual root. Hamah was an Agagite, a descendant of the Amalekites (1 Sam 15) who King Saul was told to destroy but did not. Now, hundreds of years later, an Amalekite is trying to destroy not only the descendants of Saul (which includes Esther and Mordecai) but all the Jewish people. One of the things that is really interesting to me is that, in the book of Esther, there are no big miracles or prophetic words. It’s just a story of ordinary people living their lives and muddling through. Unlike Daniel, Esther does not follow the food laws and does not even pray—though she does fast, which is a kind of prayer. Mordecai refuses to bow to his social superior Haman, which sparks the whole plan to massacre to Jews. Yet even despite the muddling of these people, God works. Even when it seems that God is absent, He is there. How is God there? In the seeming coincidences and reversals of the story. There are just too many chance occurrences for it all to be an accident. Esther is selected as the queen. After the honeymoon is over and the relationship has cooled, the King still shows her favour. One night, the King has insomnia and through a funny situation Haman ends up honouring Mordecai. Esther invites the King and Haman to a banquet and exposes Haman’s plot to destroy her people. There’s a whole heap of funny coincidences in the story—really, you have to read it! But its only as we look back that we can see God’s hand in it all. God orchestrates events so that Esther and her people are not only saved from destruction but flourish. So, as each of us muddle along in life—trying to follow God as best we can, but sometimes more a worrier than a warrior—just remember that God is with us even when we can’t see Him. Trust Him and I promise you that, like Esther, you will see God’s grace in action. You will look back in years to come and have a testimony of God’s unseen hand at work.