Not the Whole Story

The book of Esther is full of excitement and drama but if you read it closely, you’ll see one big omission. God is never mentioned in the entire book. I’ve always thought this was odd but recently I learned this was a brilliant literary move.

Every ironic reversal and coincidence in the book were meant to remind the reader of the one working behind the scenes. You only begin to see God’s miraculous work when you put all of the pieces of the puzzle together at the end of the story.  

God’s involvement wouldn’t have been so obvious in the middle of the story. For those of you who don’t know the story well, Esther is a young Jewish woman living in exile, who gets chosen by King Xerxes of Persia as his new queen. Her uncle upsets a high-ranking official who then convinces the King to issue a decree to have all of the nation go to war against their Jewish neighbors on one specific day. In the midst of this part of the narrative, it would have been difficult to see how God was at work.

I wonder if some of us are looking at our current circumstances as a full story in themselves or as one chapter in the narrative of our lives. When we fail to see this moment as only one part, we can end up losing faith. After all, living in a moment where illness and injustice are at the forefront of our minds can be discouraging. Add whatever personal struggles you’re having at the moment, and it makes for a cocktail of disappointment. Unless we can see that this is only a segment in our story, our hope for the future is dim.

Romans 8:28 is a famous verse that often encourages me. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In Esther, this edict to have all of the Jews killed eventually backfired and led to the most prosperous time for the Israelites while they were exiled. Will you believe that even though you can’t see it now, God is working for your ultimate good and for His purposes?

I am the most prone to forget this is a chapter in my story when I fool myself into believing I am the author of it. Focusing only on what is going on around me and what I can do leads me to take my eyes off of Jesus. He’s the real author of my story and yours. As you meditate on his word and sit with him, you’ll be encouraged that he is faithful when you aren’t, strong when you can’t be and in control when you feel out of it.

If we flipped to the last page in our story, we know it ends with us and Jesus for eternity. For all of the pages in between here and there, let’s keep our eyes fixed on him.  

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
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