Like several Old Testament books, the author of the book of Esther is anonymous. The most interesting fact of the book is God is never mentioned by name. Like any great literature, I think this was done intentionally. The story of Esther invites us to look for God’s activity throughout the story because he’s there! It’s a lot like our own lives. We don’t see neon lights flashing with “God was here” but we’re invited to see him in everything. We see lots of “coincidences and reversals” in the book of Esther and a God who is always working behind the scenes, but he most often works by his hidden hand even when things seem so out of control.
When you see the news about the war in Ukraine, have you wondered how or if God is involved? Have you ever struggled with trusting God when he doesn’t seem to be present or active in your life? Have you ever had things come together that were “coincidental” and you thought, “Man, is this God?” What we see in Esther is what we often see in our own lives, a God of providence. A God who is always working with his hidden hand.
Here’s the truth, even in chaos and confusion, God is always working. Think about all the things that are causing you anxiety, stress, depression and doubt today. When I talk about a God of providence, I’m talking about a God who in invisible ways governs all things, all actions and all circumstances through the normal and ordinary events of life, typically without the miraculous. Yes, God can and often does the miraculous, but what the book of Esther shows us over and over is a God who often works secretly, quietly and behind the scenes of our lives with his hidden hand. As Romans 8 reminds us, God is working in all things, the ordinary things, some good and happy, but some awful and tragic events, God is working to form Christ in us. It’s hard to know and see God’s work in the present or what he is up to in the here and now.
The story of Esther also reminds us that God’s purposes will move on no matter what the events of this world come to. And there are no places where God is not working. I don’t know what you are going through or how awful your situation might be, but I do know a God who sent his son Jesus into the brokenness of our world. I do know about Jesus who took all of our sin, pain, suffering and confusion on himself at the cross and died for us. I do know about Jesus who died and for two days everything seemed hopeless and then, against all odds, doubt and reasoning, rose from the grave as the final proof that God is always working out his plan. I can’t tell you how God is going to work it out in your life, but pay attention to all the “coincidences” and “ordinary events” because it’s right there, in the chaos and confusion, where God is most often working