History and the Book of Esther

Dear Reader,

I wanted to share with you one more thought I had at the Storyformed Child conference I went to (see my earlier post on it here and their website here). This one came out of the workshop I attended which was entitled “Finding Story in History” and was by a woman named Jane Rattray.

Mrs. Rattray had a number of interesting things to say. She quoted the statistic that history textbooks contain 1.2 million facts (how anyone ever found out a number like that I have no idea) but talked about how easy these facts are to lose, when, for instance, one has taken a test and no longer needs them. But, she said, if you have  a story to go with the facts, you will remember them. Or perhaps a story will even inspire one to want to learn more so that they intentionally seek out facts.

At one point Mrs. Rattray talked about King Xerxes of Persia, the battle he fought at Thermopylae, and his story in the book of Esther (I never connected that this was the same Xerxes myself). And we talked a bit about Esther and how she was placed at a certain time in history to save her people. I remembered being told in grad school that Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible that does not mention God explicitly. Some rabbis actually wanted to leave it out of the canon because of this. But there is one point in the middle when Mordecai is urging Esther to step up and speak to the king when he says (paraphrasing here): “But if you do not, help will come to the Jews from another place.” This “other place” is the reference to God. And remembering this, what I thought was that the story of our lives is so often like the book of Esther. We do not walk with God in the garden like Adam (despite one awful hymn which I find particularly annoying, even for a hymn). We do not usually speak with Him like Abraham. Hearing voices from burning bushes is not for most of us. Most of us are Esthers. We do not see God working directly. We have to trust that He is behind it all and that He will provide. I think it is actually a sign of our maturity as a people that God has become a bit of a more hands-off parent in His day-to-day dealings with us. But it does require us to see in a different way, to look into circumstances, both in our own lives and in history, and to use our discernment in order to see His hand at work.



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