The Bold & The Brave: Esther
The newest in our fantastic Lent series about bold and brave women, who made sacrifices to magnify a glorious God. We are super inspired by Esther's bravery! x
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about reading about or watching brave women stand for their beliefs that makes me proud, excited and gives me a can-do attitude!
Then I close my laptop or book, go out into the real world and my fear of unfamiliar people often takes over, leaving me feeling like a failure.
Maybe this was why Esther was by far my favourite book of the Bible growing up. My parents actually had to ban me from reading it with the suggestion that I should “maybe read about Jesus more?”
There was something about Esther that was so amazingly human, in a way that I later learned to recognise in Jesus. Fear was a present reality in Esther’s life, just as it has been a constant to overcome (in much lesser ways) in my own life.
Her husband, King Xerxes, had literally killed his first wife, Vashti, for refusing to appear before him when he demanded, “in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.” (Esther 1:11) Marrying the King of an empire who had destroyed and then exiled Esther’s entire nation held certain consequences for her, along with framing her entire identity around her beauty and mindless obedience. Fear must have been an easy emotion for Esther as she took on this new role.
One of the things about Esther that I take hope from is her initial refusal to risk herself to save her nation. Fear initially overcame her; she had seen what had happened to Vashti, and believed that by hiding who she was, she could protect at least herself. The law of the entire nation was against her twice over – firstly as a woman, and then as an Israelite.
Yet she took courage when she was reminded of her identity and her calling. Those well-known words which are found in Esther – “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Esther prioritised obedience to God above obedience to her earthly rulers and her fear.
Obedience to Xerxes and Haman would have brought nothing but destruction to Esther’s people, yet choosing to obey God in direct disobedience to them could have destroyed Esther herself.
We can often feel trapped into situations we want to run away from. I wonder what earthly rulers we often bow to in direct disobedience of God, forgetting our identities and allowing our insecurities to rule instead?
But in the Book of Esther, we find an alternative solution.
Instead of bowing to her fear of the imminent destruction of her people, Esther took hold of her identity as a Queen and a daughter of Israel. She had the courage to walk into the King’s throne room, and instead of killing her he reached out his sceptre, granting her life, and beyond that, even “up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you.” (Esther 5:3)
This violent, oppressive ruler is paradoxically used to show us an example of God’s abundant grace. As we take hold of the identity our Lord holds out to us (as Xerxes held out his sceptre to Esther), we are met not just with life, but an abundant generosity borne out of love.
So how can we understand this and translate it in a way that will help us to overcome our fear? We take hold of our identity as children of the King of Kings, and have the courage to walk into his throne room. We take our fear to the one who can do something about it, and wait for his abundant generosity. Courage does not have to be the absence of fear, but the decision to step into the arms of a Father who is utterly dependable in all situations.
In other words, we can’t just rely on great stories to inspire us.
My ‘can-do’ attitude can only take me so far on its own. We need to rely on the reason behind these stories; to look beyond them to the One who will give us our own story and has already given us a unique identity, and then take hold of it and go.
Anna is from Manchester and is in her final year at Durham University where she studies Theology. She loves Jesus, Justice and anything to do with Marvel. One of her favourite things to do is meet up with friends and chat about social justice!