God is never mentioned in the book of Esther.
We have this whole story, this entire book of the BIBLE, and God isn’t mentioned even once.
And to be honest? It’s a hard story. The king of Persia is a drunk who likes to party. His advisors are power hungry men who are afraid of anyone (even their own wives) having any say over them. And Hadassah, or Esther, is basically a victim of sex-trafficking–served up to pacify a moody king.
Sure, we like to create this love-story idea where the king fell for her, but considering the fact that Esther is prepared to die when she goes before him to ask for the lives of her people, I think we can all agree that they did not have a storybook marriage, or even much of a marriage at all.
I was reading Esther this week and was overcome first, by how alone she must have felt. How completely abandoned. Unable to be her true self (she spends most of the book hiding her identity), or be with her family (most of her conversations with her adoptive father are through trusted servants), or even feel confident that she will be welcome in the same room as her husband.
It would seem that in the midst of such emptiness, such darkness, the writer of Esther would take the chance to say a lot about God.
But instead, the writer does something different. He/She takes us on a journey of learning to see God’s hand when all of life seems empty. To look and identify the presence of the Great-I-Am. To display that despite the fact that it looked like all hope was lost, God was working, and the Jewish people weren’t alone. Instead of spelling out the words exactly, we’re invited to look and see what is displayed in the story-line.
What you’ll find is that Esther is actually a book about reversals.
One horrible thing after another is reversed until those who were slated for death actually become rulers.
And this tells us a lot about where God is in emptiness, even if He isn’t mentioned by name.
He’s there, you know. Right there in the story, setting things in motion, keeping His promises to His people. Never leaving them alone, no matter how deep the emptiness seemed.
Do you hear the whisper of what God is saying through this story to you, today?
He doesn’t change. Not in centuries or cultures or people. He is always the same. Which means in your story, you’re never alone and He can be found in your emptiness as well.
We’ll find Him the same way we do in Esther’s story. We look and see. Because He’s going to be fulfilling His promises. That’s where He is, that’s what He’s doing. And no matter how dark or empty the world seems, He’s still going to be present and working.
I needed to remember that this year. Maybe you too?