Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.
— Esther 4:13-14
The book of Esther has a unique place in the cannon of scripture. Throughout its 10 chapters, God is never mentioned. Hiding just off stage, and behind the activity of time, God’s hand is present but never does the text invoke the person of God. Strange, and yet, ever so relatable. It is hard for us to know exactly what God is doing in any one moment and nearly impossible to name the challenge that will call us to greatness. In February, who would have thought we would be spending months working from home, wearing masks, and washing our hand feverishly (if you pardon the pun). Who saw this coming and who prepared?
There are two fundamental lessons in the book of Esther: first, God is working all the time, even when we think things look bad. Our task is to trust in the care of God, always. Secondly, when the challenge appears, take stock of all you have and use it to proclaim the name of God. It seems to me those are fairly good lessons for us these days. It is hard to know what God might be teaching us through this crisis, and I surely would not mean to name the will of God. I do know God is working. I know there are blessings, even in the midst of this challenging time. I want to suggest two ways we as the people of faith can use this time and our faith for the glory of God:
• First, remember what matters. If this period of time has taught us nothing, it has most assuredly taught us the value of family, friends, and the importance of life. Whenever this ends and the tasks of life return, we will need to remember what really matters. In the words of Paul, “what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)
• Second, protect the vulnerable. The largest group of victims in this crisis have been the most vulnerable parts of our society — seniors in nursing homes, persons whose health is weakened, workers with little savings to carry them through. When we return, we need to keep that focus on the weakest among our community.
This too shall pass. We will return to the activity of life, but before we do there is plenty for us to do. Perhaps we have come to royal dignity for this moment in time.
I offer the hymn “The Voice of God Is Calling” as our prayer:
The voice of God is calling its summons in our day;
Isaiah heard in Zion, and we now hear God say:
“Whom shall I send to succor my people in their need?
Whom shall I send to loosen the bonds of shame and greed”
“I hear my people crying in slum and mine and mill;
No field or mart is silent, no city street is still.
I see my people falling in darkness and despair.
Whom shall I send to shatter the fetters which they bear?”
We heed, O Lord, your summons, and answer: Here are we!
Send us upon your errand, let us your servants be.
Our strength is dust and ashes, our years a passing hour;
But you can use our weakness to magnify your power.