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When things are going well in our lives we are more likely to believe in God’s goodness and benevolence. We can see that God is looking after us. But what happens when life goes wrong, when the clouds roll in, when we feel vulnerable, insecure and threatened? At these times we search for God, pleading for Him to change our circumstances, wondering if he is really in control.
All these existential and faith issues arise in Esther. Esther and all her people live under the dark shadow of persecution, threatened with genocide at the hands of the Persians. Strangely God does not appear in the story and yet a great deliverance occurs. Esther is a rescue story, a deliverance story. At the end there is a great celebration which the Jewish people to this day commemorate as the feast of Purim.
God rescues his people, but not in an obvious way. His ways are hidden, somewhat mysterious. There are no prophets, angels, burning bushes or obvious miracles. And so we are left to wonder about God’s hidden work of providence, ordering human affairs to achieve his purposes, working quietly through the decisions that people make. Esther becomes the queen, raised to prominence “for such a time as this” (4:14), reminding us that God is still in charge no matter how bleak things look.