Dr Charlotte Whitton was the first female mayor of a major city in Canada, serving from 1951 to 1956 and again from 1960 to 1964. Among other things she is known for this little quip; “Whatever women must do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” I feel like this saying well defines today’s notable biblical women, Esther.
There are a lot of monarchs in the bible. Many are bad, some are good but none shine quite as brightly as Esther. Esther is hardly depicted as perfect but like most biblical hero’s she does her best to follow God in the midst of very difficult circumstances.
There is no way I can do Esther’s story justice in just a paragraph or two. I really have to encourage you to read the whole thing here. It is a relatively easy read, and shouldn’t take more than an hour or so. Esther’s story has everything we want out of a great novel; love, loss, family, friends, drama and plot twists. Even if you have never once cracked open the bible this story will not disappoint.
For those who didn’t read it allow me to very quickly sum up her story. Esther has found her way into the position of being Queen of Persia. At the same time a man named Haman has become prime minister. Haman in that role has enacted a plot to kill all of the Jews living in Persia. Esther has to choose between staying quiet and being safe or risk exposing herself as Jewish in the hopes of to saving her people.
The man who raised her told her this, ‘Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.’
Esther responded by saying, “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”
Esther’s story is bigger than this conversation, but this conversation is a major turning point. It is when she takes a step back and says, ‘maybe everything that has happening in my life has lead me to this moment so I can help my people. And even though I don’t know what will happen I will do the right thing.’
It is this moment that endears Esther to so many. Esther pushes us to ask a different question when we are faced with difficult choices. Normally when I am faced with a major decision in my life I find myself asking questions like;
‘Will this choice make me happier?’
‘Will this choice be difficult?’
‘Will this choice make my life better or worse?’
I am not saying these are bad questions to ask. Often these are the questions we do need to ask ourselves. But they are not what Esther seems to have asked herself. Instead she seems to have asked herself;
‘What is the right thing to do?’
I have heard far to many sermons that more or less say, ‘If you do what God wants your life will be better.’ That statement is only sort of true. Ultimately yes I think your life will be better if you follow God’s will. But there is a rather large group of prophets, apostles, and martyrs that will testify that following God may not make your life easier or safer.
Esther reminds us that we have to do the right thing no matter what the cost may be. She had no idea what the outcome of her actions may be, but she knew what the right decision to make was. There will no doubt be times in our lives where we must try to do the right thing, even when it isn’t the easy thing. May we all have Esther’s courage.