Day 8: Reflections on Esther

So far in the month of February, Beyoncé has performed at the Super Bowl halftime show, released a new single (and proclaimed her love of hot sauce!), put forth a controversial music video, and sold out her latest world tour in a matter of minutes. And today’s so-called “Queen of America” ain’t done yet.

Today’s first reading introduces us to a very different, humbled, distressed member of royalty in the Old Testament — Queen Esther. She’s beautiful, perhaps as beautiful in those days as Beyoncé, if not more. At a young age, Esther is put under tremendous pressure, having just been recruited to the King of Persia’s court. Suddenly, she becomes more than just a pretty Jewish girl — she becomes responsible for her neglected people, elevating her status from orphan to Queen. In this Biblical story, she uses her influence to save her suffering people from destruction.

Queen Esther was a young woman who was suddenly put in a place of tremendous power, and faced a difficult choice. Called by God, she had to find a way to save her people from the King of Peria’s decree to destroy them. She knew what she had to do.

“Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you,
O LORD, my God.
Come to help me, an orphan.
Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion
and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy,
so that he and those who are in league with him may perish.
Save us from the hand of our enemies;
turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.”

Queen Esther used her God-given beauty, influence, and power to persuade the King to turn to good. In the end, she was able to save her people. But she could not do it alone — this good-hearted, mourning Queen (she cries a lot in this story, I mean A LOT) called fervently upon her Maker to give her “persuasive words” and turn her “mourning into gladness,” and “sorrows into wholeness.”

Esther trusted God with her whole heart. With her whole life.

She had to embrace her people’s sorrow, their suffering, and entrust it to God to transform their mourning into joy. She pleaded passionately with Him for strength and wholeness — to mend her brokennessso that she could do what God had tasked her: to fully persuade the King not to destroy. And justice was served, the Jews lived on to bear fruit, observed religious practices, destroyed their enemies, and Esther reigned; a good, loving Queen to her people.

And God provided.

The Gospel also tells us to “ask, and it will be given,” “seek, and you will find…” God’s daily reminders of His great goodness and power, even as we mourn and suffer endlessly here on Earth.

As Blessed is She’s Sarah Babbs writes,: “We have also been taught that we are blessed when we mourn, for it is then that we will be comforted. God asks us to invite Him into our grief, and it is that invitation that carries with it the seeds of transformation, and ultimately, joy.”

Do we carry fear, grief and sorrow in our hearts? If so, do we allow God to provide, as He did for Queen Esther — to transform this suffering and unending anxiety into pure and resounding joy?

No hate on Beyoncé, just a reminder that there are other queens — and one reigning King, the Creator of all — out there who are examples of pure goodness, wholeheartnedness, and strength.