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By Denise Bowman.

An unknown young woman, because of her beauty and grace, becomes queen of a great nation and risks her life to thwart the plans of an evil man and save her people. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is the true story of Esther. God is nowhere mentioned in this book, but His presence is everywhere in it. Esther is a story of faith, courage, and steadfastness. In it, we can see the dangers of pride as we consider Haman, and the blessedness of humility through Mordecai’s example. Perhaps the most memorable facet of Esther’s story is the demonstration of God’s providence. By God’s will, a faithful Jewish girl was in the position to save His people at the right time.

Webster defines providence as "divine guidance or care," or "God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny." God has always been active in the affairs of men. the Old Testament account reveals God’s handling of nations and individuals to accomplish His purposes. Israel’s history and the preaching of the prophets are replete with examples of such intervention. In the New Testament, providence is evident, but more by implication. Jesus was sent to earth "when the fullness of time had come" (Gal. 4:4). Consider the conversion accounts in Acts, when people were in just the right place to come in contact with the Word. Paul alluded to providence in Phil. 1:12, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel."

Providence is God’s business. We do know that God is working in our times. How or exactly when God is working with us individually is unclear. Even Mordecai said, "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Est. 4:14). The bottom line is that we will never fully understand how providence works on this side of eternity. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:9).

So what does that mean for you and me? After all, Esther was a queen and had the opportunity to perform a grand and courageous act for the Lord. True, but Esther wasn’t born a queen. She was a parentless Jewish girl in a foreign land.

Her cousin Mordecai, whose own story is a study in providence as well, raise Esther. He raised her to be respectful and faithful, and she became a girl who "obtained favour in the sight of all who saw her" (3:15). Mordecai had been born in a land that was not his own, yet he was faithful to his foreign ruler. He even revealed a wicked plot to take the king’s life, and he showed his great faith by refusing to bow down to the evil Haman. His actions were as much a part of God’s deliverance of the Jews as were Esther’s. What would have happened had Mordecai not raised Esther to be God-fearing, or had he decided not to get involved when he overheard the plot to murder the king? The story would have ended quite differently. Through His wisdom and working, God brought this ordinary man and his young cousin into the position to deliver His people.

God has always recognised and used simple people for His work, and He has never demanded notoriety or fanfare in order to be pleasing to Him. In Matt. 25, Jesus separated the sheep and the goats by simple criteria. Those who had shown compassion and served others in the smallest of ways, such as feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, received His inheritance. When Mary anointed Jesus’ head with oil to the dismay of the disciples, Jesus commended her saying, "She has done what she could" (Mk. 14:8). Isn’t that what Esther did? She did what she could where God had placed her. Each of us must do the same in our little corner of the world.

Few will ever have Esther’s role of going before a king at the risk of their very life to save a nation (and aren’t we thankful?), but all of us have talents and opportunities to serve in simple ways that will bring God glory and further His kingdom Make no mistake -- we have a choice in the matter. We are not forced to comply with God’s will. His plans will be accomplished with or without us. Note what Mordecai told Esther: "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish" (4:14). We believe firmly in providence, but that should never be an excuse to complain or to do nothing. Providence should motivate us to serve more. After all, who knows whether we have been brought here "For such a time as this?"

Presented by The Cape Rd Church of Christ.

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