If you’ve wondered why I’ve been absent from your inbox for a while, it’s because I’ve been struggling with Lyme disease again. It can come out of remission much like cancer can. The climb back to health is like scaling a cliff. It’s scary and lonely. It reminds me of Esther.
Talk about being scared and alone. The Bible is full of descriptions of “two’s.” The Levites’ assignments were two by two or multiples of two. Jesus sent the apostles out two by two. But Esther was alone.
According to historical records, Esther was one of four hundred women taken to Xerxes’ harem. What a dismal prospect that was! All but one woman in the crowd would live the rest of their lives isolated within the walls of the palace complex, serving as concubines who likely would never see the king (Esther 2:14).
After undergoing a year of purification and beautification treatments, we don’t know how many more months (or years) Esther waited in that harem.
It takes a special kind of courage to keep trusting God when your circumstances look like they’ll never change.
And, no matter how strong your faith, you’ll question God sometimes. Do You remember me? When will my turn come for You to bless me? To deliver me?
In a poignant scene from Sight & Sound Theatres’ production of Queen Esther, she recalls her carefree early childhood while she struggles with deciding to put her life on the line. She sings:
“I still hear your voices echo in my heart.
What I wouldn’t give to go back to the start …
My God, I can’t hear You!
My God, I can’t see You!
I’m tired of feeling alone.
I just want to go back home.”
Can you relate? I sure can.
The song ends with, “But where You lead, I’ll go.”
Esther’s story is nothing short of miraculous. As a result of her bravery, “many people of other nationalities [within the Persian Empire] became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” (Esther 8:17).
Some of those “conversions” may not have been sincere. I imagine some people were just trying to save their necks. But think about this: approximately 750,000 Jews lived in the Persian Empire back then. The empire’s total population was between 17 to 35 million people. We don’t know how many the word “many” implies. But, by any measure, it was an astonishing evangelistic outreach!
In the hallelujah of how God worked through Esther, it’s easy to overlook a few things about her. She stayed inside those palace walls the rest of her life. Although Xerxes loved her, he kept his huge harem of consorts. We don’t know whether he ever changed his religious bent (which was likely Zoroastrian, as his father Darius had practiced). Xerxes and Esther were married only fourteen years when he was assassinated in a court revolt. History is silent about Esther’s ultimate fate, but the Bible shows us Esther remained a “foreigner,” an obedient servant who kept her faith despite being planted in a pagan culture.
Through this, God once again reminded me:
- Struggles aren’t weaknesses.
- You’re not alone.
- God’s intentions for you are good, no matter how awful your present is.
- God doesn’t put hurdles in front of you to see how high you can jump or how far you can fall.
- Battles are fought and won on your knees.
- God will redeem all your pain, loss, waiting, wondering, and faithfulness.
- The reward will be worth the wait (because He said so).
- We need to move beyond belief in God to trusting Him. Trust is belief in action.
- God has the final say. And some day it’ll all make sense.
If you are struggling in any way today, I hope this lifts your spirits. Take heart, my friend. You are not alone.
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Great article and photos about the palace at Susa and how far Esther would have walked to illegally enter the throne room: https://biblediscoverytv.com/history/2022/palace-at-susa/
I have a friend that has struggled with lime disease for nearly 30 years. Since you know all about this terrible debilitating disease would you be so kind as to call and talk to her. Maybe you could give her a way to beat this monster she struggles with. She is not alone! Carol Carpenter, 316-218-2592. She will not know you so please leave her a message so she can call back. God bless you.
I’d be happy to reach out to her. I’m so sorry to hear of your friend’s struggles. It really is a bada** disease.
Thank you for giving us a new look at Queen Esther. No, we are not alone. May God bless you and comfort you as you heal. Someday, we’ll go home…
Thank you for your kind words, Ginny! God is always amazing, isn’t He?
Another wonderful email, Lana. Christian author Colleen Coble has also struggled with Lyme Disease. If I remember correctly, it is also a hard-to-detect disease, which of course delays treatment, causing even more challenges.
Thank you, Dana; I so appreciate your compliment! Yes, Lyme is hard to diagnose correctly. That’s why it’s called “the great imitator.” It often advances to late-stage disease before it’s diagnosed properly (like it was in my case). But God has been faithful through it … even now with this latest challenge. I pray people will see Him more than me in this blog.