Many of you know that I’m a blue-jeans-and-tennies kinda girl. I like my comfort, and I don’t like to think about my clothes. Yet I’m also a lifelong, avid fan of Disney’s Cinderella. That’s about as girly as I typically get.
When I was growing up, my favorite Bible story was Esther. My young mind equated her, in many ways, with Cinderella. The Bible tells us she was lovely in form and feature (Esther 2:7), and she won the favor of those around her (2:9, 15).
When she went to the palace, she received twelve months of beauty treatments (2:12), was given both the best place in the harem and seven maids to serve her (2:9). In my adult mind, that translates to a daily stylist and people to do my laundry! What’s not to love?
Oh, yeah … she was in a harem.
You see, if you take off the rose-colored glasses, the picture looks a little different.
In fact, Esther may not have been all that different from me and you. Let’s look again at her life.
The very first piece of information we are given about her is that she was an orphan being raised by her cousin (2:7). She knew great tragedy.
Mordecai was in Susa because he, or more likely his family, had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar many years earlier. But in 536 BC, King Cyrus allowed as many Jews as wanted to return to Jerusalem. Mordecai chose to stay. Was that the right decision, or the easy decision? I don’t know, but I do know that Esther could have been far from the King’s grasp if her cousin had chosen differently. She lived in circumstances that brought forth great “What if?” questions.
She likely dealt with a lot of jealousy among the other women in the harem. We don’t know where in the line of new women coming into the harem that Esther stood, but the Bible says that Hegai was pleased with Esther, and he immediately provided her with beauty treatments, special food, seven maids, and the best place. That’s definitely a formula for breeding jealousy.
Finally, she faced a life of loneliness, surrounded by a plethora of women all vying for the King’s attention. Can you imagine? If she didn’t make an impression on their first night together, all her childhood dreams of a husband and children were forever gone. We could play on the line from a popular book and movie series by saying, “The odds were never in her favor.”
But God had a plan.
Doesn’t He always? God wasn’t surprised by the deaths of Esther’s parents or Mordecai’s choices. He knew life in the harem wasn’t ideal. But, as Mordecai declared, Esther had become Queen “for such a time as this” (4:14).
The same principle can be applied to each of our lives. Whatever your background, whatever misfortunes visited your childhood, whatever poor choices you’ve since made–none of it includes events that God didn’t foresee and plan for.
And He has a great plan for you. Right now, for such a time as this.
What’s holding you back?