Lessons From Esther
My name is Becky Shand and it is my pleasure to share with you what I feel God has been revealing to me recently, through the wonderful story of Esther. When Louise asked us to write about a woman from the Bible – I knew that for me it would be Esther. For some reason she has always inspired me – from a young age I can remember thinking about her as the closest thing to a Biblical Disney princess!
A beautiful maiden, who wins the heart of a King, marries him and becomes the Queen of a glorious nation. I thought that it must have been wonderful for her to be given that position and to be favoured for her beauty and kind nature. Then to top it off – she then goes on to use that favour and her emotional intelligence to save her whole nation – what a ‘Boss Girl lol!’ I always thought of Esther as being the epitome of ‘girl power’ (Yes – I was also a huge Spice Girls fan!).
However, over the years my understanding of this story has matured so much, and the lessons that I have taken from it have challenged me in new ways.
The lesson that I am going to share with you now has by far been the most challenging for me. This blog has actually been one of the hardest things I’ve had to write, as I literally feel like God has been teaching me this lesson in real-time. Real Talk!
So, let me share with you why the story of Esther continues to speak to me today.
The S Word
There’s a word that doesn’t get used very often now a days, a word that might be perceived as un-popular or old-fashioned. That word is submission.When I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to this particular word in relation to Esther, I thought – really? Aren’t we supposed to be writing about powerful women of the Bible doing amazing things for the Kingdom? How is talking about submission going to make us feel empowered?
But God has been showing me how submission has nothing to do with being weaker or less important. In fact it’s quite the opposite! Let’s take a little look at Esther’s story and see how she submitted to authority in order to be empowered.
I love the way that Esther played the ‘dating game’ game. If any of you are familiar with the reality show called The Bachelor – this would have been the Bible version! Esther would have been competing for the crown against hundreds of other smart, savvy, beautiful women – who probably already felt a sense of achievement being selected.But Esther was one step ahead, even from the get go she learnt to submit to wisdom and authority of the Kings Eunuch. When given the choice to request anything she wanted for her one night with the King “she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favour in the eyes of all who saw her.” (Esther 2:15).
Instead of doing things her own way, she was humble enough to find out what would be most pleasing to the King, by trusting the advice of Kings eunuch. This act of submission paid off – as she won the heart of the King who made her Queen.
If we fast-forward in the story to when the Jews were faced with the threat of annihilation, Esther being a Jew herself could have kept her true identity hidden. Furthermore, as the new Queen, she may have even thought that she would be above the fate of her people. However, when the decree had been sent out that all the Jews were to be put to death – this was the direction from her Uncle Mordecai:
“He instructed her to “go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people” (Esther 4:8).
This was no easy task for Esther because it was against the law to go into the Kings presence, without first being summoned. She was literally risking her life – being denied by the King would result in death.
Nonetheless, Esther chose to submit to her uncle’s direction and do what he had told her to do for the sake of her people.
“I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” If she had not listened to Mordecai there most likely would not have been the story of Esther in the Bible, as she would never have turned out to be the heroine that she was. God would have used another method to save His people and Esther may even have lost her own life.
There is a difference between mindless obedience and submission. Submission is an attitude choice, whereas obedience is just doing what you’re told. We have a choice to submit to Godly authority by having an attitude that seeks to please God and to serve others.
I used to think that submission meant that you would have to renounce power or authority. But actually, submitting to the authorities that God has put in our lives brings power, freedom, order and joy.Even Jesus had to submit to the will of the Father, despite pleading with Him for ‘another way’. Jesus – all powerful, commander of the wind and the waves still had a willingness to submit to the will of God that led Him to the cross.
If you find submission a difficult concept to swallow – could it be that your perception of submission is tainted by something negative you have experienced or witnessed?
Something that perhaps you thought was an example of submission, when really it was unwilling obedience or even abuse? We must remember that we only have to submit out of reverence to Christ, and so we should never feel forced into anything outside of God’s will. Throughout this study, I have had my own revelation of what Godly submission is meant to be. I have realised that perhaps my own understanding of the concept had been shaped by my childhood experiences. Subconsciously I think I rebutted against the style of dictatorial authority, which made me feel like submission was a weakness. However, now I realise that as Christians it’s not about who can have the most power or be the most important. The Bible says “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3).
I believe that God has put a spiritual order of authority in place to protect us and to bring order and peace. Some of us may have positions of authority at work or within our society – our authority is God given, and should be used with humility and servitude.
Everyone has to submit to someone else’s authority – no matter who you are. And in doing so, not only do we have the blessing that comes from following God’s order, but we too can then be trusted and empowered, just like Esther was, to do amazing things for God’s Kingdom.
Woman To Woman Team & Mentee