Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Esther 2:1-18, 4:6-17
At first, when we hear about Esther spending a year residing at the king’s palace, with seven maids, receiving daily beauty treatments, it can sound a little dreamy. However, I don’t think it was exactly a spa-like experience. These beauty treatments were all done in an effort to groom these young women to “please” the king. The girls in the harem waited until the king was ready to use them for his sexual pleasure. I can imagine what went through these young minds, wondering exactly what would be expected of them when their time came. It makes my stomach turn to think about it.
Esther is a beautiful example of courage and discernment. She uses her influence as the chosen queen, to save her people. She is wise about how she approaches the difficult and potentially dangerous task she’s faced with. When we are faced with a difficult situation that we need to address, for example, an uncomfortable conversation or standing up for something we know is right but will alienate some people, acting in a discerning manner can be a challenge. I’ve noticed that people usually fall into two camps: those that like to tackle the situation head-on, “rip off the band-aid” just to get the whole thing over with and those who want to bury their head in the sand and hope that the ugly situation will go away. Though I’m guilty of using both of these tactics in the past, I tend to fall into the first camp. I hate having things hang over my head. I like to have issues done and settled. This can lead to acting impulsively, on high emotions, jumping into a situation or conversation ill-prepared and likely at a time where it may not be well received. (“Wow, Sherry! I see how that would upset you. I’m very sorry for how it caused you to feel and am SO glad you brought it up right as I walked through the door after a stressful day at work.”, said my husband, NEVER.) God is working on my patience. Avoidance, however, has its own set of consequences, and bad situations don’t always resolve themselves. Fear and anxiety can prevent us from doing what needs to be done. There is a middle ground between acting rashly and procrastinating. Esther got it right. Her first reaction was fear, completely understandable considering approaching the king uninvited could lead to death. (I probably would not have lasted long as queen in his palace.) However, she realized what was at stake and the unique position she was in to save her people. She prayed. She fasted. She reached out for additional support, sending a message to Mordecai asking her people to pray and fast as well. Bravely, willing to risk her life, she approached the king humbly and waited for the right time to make her request. I encourage you to read this page-turning book of the Bible, full of drama and plot twists. Spoiler alert: Things end well for Esther and her people. Lord, please give me patience, courage, wisdom, and discernment like Esther.
1. How do you tend to react when faced with a difficult or uncomfortable situation?
2. Has there been a time in your life when acting impulsively inflamed an already tense relationship?
3. Is there an issue in your life right now that you have avoided dealing with? What can you do to face the problem appropriately? I would encourage you to pray for wisdom. If you are not sure how to best approach the issue, seek counsel and support from a trusted friend or mentor.
Bonus Reading: The Book of Esther