For Such a Time as This: What Esther Taught Me About Identity

White woman with brown hair looking upwards in a church
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.

It was mid-morning. I was sitting at work enjoying a cup of coffee, and I had been pondering Esther all morning. I was going through a dry spell, some call it writer’s block, where I was feeling empty of writing ideas and my inbox was equally empty of responses from publishers. I was dealing with the old familiar season of waiting which led me to think of Esther. You know, the woman who has her own book in the Bible. (She must have been a pretty impressive gal to get her own book.) 

Years prior, I participated in a women’s Bible study on the Book of Esther, hosted by my church. It was truly a life-changing experience, as I had never really paid much attention to the Old Testament and how it applies to women today. Diving into the text and dissecting Esther’s story word by word has stuck with me through some life difficulties I never saw coming. One of my favorite verses to this day can be found in in Esther 4:13-15, when Mordecai responds to Esther’s plea of deliverance for the Jews: 

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“He sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

“Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’”

Wow. Just wow! This woman, likely a young teenager, was chosen to do the work of the Lord. My question is…did she know she was chosen? Do any of us know we are chosen? This was a time when no one was allowed to enter the presence of the King without a direct summons from him, even Esther, the king’s very own wife. Esther had no need for her presence to be made until the king was ready for her. Yet, she possessed valuable information surrounding the very future of her people (the Israelites) that she felt needed to be shared with the king.

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We all face seasons of waiting. Esther waited to be called, or for the courage and wise counsel to proceed with venturing into the king’s presence. I have found that the life of a writer has many periods of waiting. I may get three publication acceptances one month and hear nothing but rejections for the next three months. While my life does not depend on me approaching editors, my reputation as a budding author may. I may not have as much on the line as Esther did, but waiting is always a challenge. Whether it be waiting out an illness in hopes good health will one day be restored, navigating a career path that requires more experience than education, or facing the inevitable writer’s block where inspiration for stories and the words to tell them seems like a desire just outside my impatient mind’s grasp. Life can sometimes feel like one big waiting room.  

At times, I have wondered what my purpose is in this earthly life, as I am sure most have, and reading Esther’s story made me contemplate this further. I feel strongly that I was meant to mother the two little children I was blessed to receive nearly nine and 11 years ago. While I completed college with a four-year-degree and started on the path toward a career, my true heart’s desire in life was to be a wife and mother. I was a wife. I am a mother. 

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Yet, these factors are not the only defining personas I possess. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am an athlete, or I used to be a runner in my teens and 20s. Now, I am a 41-year-old semi-retired athlete who traded her expensive running shoes for mid-level cross-trainers to race the hands of time on my faithful old elliptical and mini trampoline three to five times a week. I am so much more than the title on my door. I am a child of God. And because I am a child of God, I am chosen.

I choose to think Esther did not fully realize that she was sent to change the course of history. I highly doubt she had a clue how important her role in the deliverance of her people would be. The thing that stands out to me about Esther is her faithful willingness to seek wise counsel coupled with her obedience in doing what she felt was right, despite the danger, the very real threat of death, involved. 

“If I perish, I perish.” There is not much in this life, other than my children, family and maybe a handful of friends that I am willing to perish for. Not only did Esther not perish, but she single-handedly saved generations of Jews from an unspoken, but very much implied, fate of genocide. Of course, Mordecai was quick to point out that God’s will would be done, no matter who volunteered (or was volun-told) for the task at hand. For Esther to be the one unique woman he chose for the task…how monumental is that? It truly makes me ponder the immeasurable possibility of being chosen to do great, wonderful, earth-shattering, inconceivable things in this life! 

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When I start feeling melancholy about my life, changes around me, and disappointment in this imperfect world, I am reminded of Esther. A woman who lived her faith, despite the overwhelming fear I am certain she felt. She was most assuredly meant to exist for a “time such as this.” 

I cannot be sure I will make the lasting impact that Esther did in freeing the Jews. But I do believe that my words will touch many, whether or not I am alive to see the domino effect. I hope and pray my actions and example as a mother will leave a lasting legacy to my children and their children, for countless generations to come. I may be a divorced, single, working mother of two, but I have loved, lost, lived, hurt, bled, and experienced the pain of life’s defeat. Yet, Jesus’ powerful hand of comfort, healing and peace has always sustained me. With his healing, I have found new love and a passion for sharing my story with the world.

In my own mind, I am an Esther of the present day. Approaching others who may not be open to my words (strangers, co-workers, acquaintances, perhaps even friends, family and my very own children) but hoping God will use me in such a way as to soften hearts, humble minds and share the love he has shown me to others. 

We never know when a kind word of encouragement will change another’s dim outlook. Or when someone reading my story will face a similar experience and find comfort in knowing they are not alone.  

Like Esther, we have only to seek God’s will to know what, when and how our time will arrive. We may not even know our role has been played until well after the fact. That revelation may not even come in this life, but in the eternal hereafter. This thought not only gives me hope and comfort, but an overarching feeling of excitement, intrigue and willingness to say: I am here. I am ready. Use me for your will.

Manndi Maphies DeBoef works full-time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University. Her greatest passion is being a mom to her two rambunctious, creative, endearing sons, William, age 10 and Waylan, age 8. Her sons never fail to provide daily entertainment, which inspires many of her writings. She also loves to write about everything from being a single mom and dating after divorce, to miscarriage, the loss of a loved one, and starting over. Her pieces are lovingly filled with inspiration, encouragement and always a touch of humor.