Her delicate steps echoed in the marble hall. Never before had these walls seemed so cold and foreboding. Her stomach felt like an empty pit and sharp hunger pains gave testament to three days of fasting. Her hands slipped across the fabric of the beautifully embroidered gown, wet with perspiration and overwhelming worry. Memories from the past flashed through her anxious mind in distinct snippets: Tears that threatened to never stop falling after the deaths of her mother and father, the dear cousin who dropped everything to take her under his wing, countless hours spent learning and participating in Jewish traditions, a year of fastidious beauty treatments within the palace walls, the climatic and unfathomable day of her crowning as Queen.
How did she get here? What was to become of her after this fateful day? She knew it had all seemed too good to be true. How does an orphan girl of Jewish descent win the favor of a king? A king who’s rule extends over 127 provinces, with more beautiful women to choose from than any one man deserved. Only the divine could have orchestrated this situation. Yet things had made such a turn for the worse and she had no idea how this story would end. This couldn’t possibly be a part of His plan, could it?
One mechanical step after another led her closer to the man that would decide, not only her own fate, but the fate of her people. Her heart was beating so wildly within her chest that she feared it might leap out onto the floor. The words she had sent to Mordecai by way of courier came back to her in a moment of clarity, “Any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life” (Esther 4:11). Thirty days. It had been a full and arduous thirty days since she had last been summoned by the king, her husband. And she had absolutely no idea why. But it was all too apparent that the odds weren’t in her favor.
All of a sudden, she stopped. Her gaze rose to meet the king’s, now seated on his royal throne before her. For a second she thought her heart actually stopped beating. But then she noticed the flash of pleasure and approval in his eye. Hope began to well up inside and her heartbeat returned. Gently lifting the gold scepter, he held it before her. Oh, what sweet joy and relief! Queen Esther approached and touched the golden tip.
As you may well know, there’s more to the story. You can read all about it in the book of Esther. It’s an incredibly beautiful and captivating tale, one with which I took a few creative liberties as I tried to imagine myself in Esther’s delicate shoes.
While writing, I’m thinking of the incredible, wise woman who shared such tremendous insights from this very story last weekend. This woman I speak of is now back at home dealing with the challenge of a great loss and my heart goes out to her. I’m thankful for the ways she encouraged me to think upon Esther’s life and the valuable lessons gleaned from her story. In the end, Esther was able to secure an overruling of the dispatches that would have wiped out her people in the citadel of Susa. Considering all the chips that were stacked against her, this was nothing short of a giant step of faith.
Do you believe that the One who knows all and sees all is doing a divine work, even when He appears silent? Do you question the things He’s asking of you, only to be met with more silence? Perhaps this is exactly how Esther felt. Yet she kept walking. Plenty of moments arose in which the temptation to jump ship must have felt so overwhelmingly strong. But she knew what she needed to do and, in the end, her fingertips touched gold.
Whether in this life or the next, we too will find great reward in doing what we know we ought, even as the grand orchestrator does HIS work, silent and behind-the-scenes as it sometimes might seem.