“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
The Biblical account of Esther is one of the most popular, well-known accounts of a Biblical heroine.
Everyone who has spent any time at all in Sunday school or browsed through a child’s illustrated Bible knows of Esther’s bravery, of her voice against wrongdoing and of her stand for what is true and good.
Esther 4:14 and it’s rallying cry of “for such a time as this” is well-known – but here within the last couple months, this verse has become increasingly important to me.
Like all living, breathing adults (or just human beings in general), I have experienced things in my past that were perhaps less than ideal. There are experiences that I likely would not have put into a plan for myself if someone had sat down next to me and asked: “how do you want your life to go?”
But that is the thing about living – you don’t get to plan it.
Sure, you can plan what you are going to have for breakfast, or whether you go to the beach on Saturday, but the big events, the ones that shape and mold you into the person who will be, those are as unplanned and unpredictable as anything could possibly be.
And those events, those things about my history of living that I’m less than happy about?
Those things have also shaped me.
I am blessed to be a listener; I can listen easily to people. I might not have the best words for wisdom and comfort, but I can listen easily and well to those who just need an understanding nod, a cup of hot tea, and someone to care.
I enjoy that aspect about myself, I am proud of that spiritual gift of being able to listen completely to others as well as the ability I possess to understand the things people don’t say.
I can judge a room’s tensions fairly well; I can understand the emotions behind the words of those who are hurting.
But despite the fact that I would not ever change the gift God has given me, I recently realized that I was regretting every opportunity I had in my past to grow and culture that spiritual gift.
As a young teenager, I never had a “cliche” of my own; the girls I knew weren’t interested in being around me and I – more often than not – sat with the older ladies at church or social events, listening to their conversations and soaking up their words.
Often, I knew the friends of my mother better than their daughters.
Even when I was a part of the Teenager Circle with the other girls, I rarely participated: I am naturally quiet, and all too often, I would end up being overlooked in participation and conversation.
Of course, this was less than ideal – but it also meant that I learned how to sit quietly and let someone else tell the story; I learned how to listen with no other intention but to hear the other person; I learned that sometimes a pause between words can say more than any sentence can.
But for years, I felt bitter towards the girls of my age who excluded me in our youth, who let me sit on the sidelines of their social circle.
I never once connected the dots and realized that if I had been allowed to grow up alongside them, and not quietly bloom on my own, I would be a very different person than who I am today.
I think often about Esther – not the queen of the Persian Ahasuerus, but the little Jewish Hadassah who existed long before a crown was put on her head.
I don’t believe Esther suddenly became brave, or that she suddenly knew what she had to do to make things right; Esther wasn’t just suddenly aware of the bad treatment of her people or of those who would harm her.
Esther’s daily experiences as Hadassah shaped her into being the Biblical heroine who remains as beloved and well-known as she was then.
How many times did Hadassah experience something less than ideal, and wish it were not so – not knowing that every experience, every moment of her life was building up to a loud crescendo that would save the lives of her people?
For me, “for such a time as this” means more than being plopped, without preparation or understanding, in an unfamiliar environment, not knowing how to proceed.
For me, “for such a time as this” means that with every experience, every struggle, every joy and tribulation, I am being prepared for something in my future, I am being given a tool, a skill, an understanding so that someday I will be ready for the time to which I have been called.
I might not be destined to marry a Persian king and save my people from a massacre, but with each less-than-ideal scenario, I will seek to stop looking at it as a difficulty, and instead consider it as a training exercise for the time that will, eventually, come to pass.