By Sadie Page
My first exposure to many Bible stories was through the Veggie Tales television series. Now I’m not sure I got the most accurate details from this series, but the episodes are definitely memorable. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into a furnace for refusing to worship a chocolate bunny. Joshua and the Israelites are drenched in grape slushies while marching around the city of Jericho. As for Esther, the opportunity to become the queen of Persia comes after Queen Vashti is kicked out of the castle for refusing to make the king a sandwich at three o’clock in the morning.
While this retelling of Esther’s story through animated vegetables is not entirely accurate, the episode includes a conversation between Esther, a green scallion, and her cousin Mordecai, a grape, that you simply can’t ignore. When Mordecai sneaks in the palace to visit one night, Esther, honestly reflecting on her experiences, cries out to her cousin, “I don’t even want to be here. Why do I have to be here?”
“Esther” in Drawings for the Bible by Marc ChagallCan’t we all relate to Queen Esther in this moment? I definitely resonate with her desperate words “I don’t even want to be here.” This year has looked very different all across the board. Whether you’re homeschooling your kids, navigating the new forms and challenges of ministry, taking online classes from home instead of going to college, or mourning the death of a loved one due to coronavirus, most of us didn’t choose to be in our current situation. We don’t want to be caught up in the middle of financial struggles, social isolation, racial tensions, political disputes, and interrupted lives. It’s just not comfortable. We didn’t plan any of this.
Esther’s truthful lament is powerful, but not left unanswered. Her cousin Mordecai replies “Oh Essie, I don’t know the future. But God does. Maybe there’s a reason.” Amidst uncertainty about the future, both Esther and Mordecai demonstrate a deep certainty in God’s faithfulness as they courageously choose to follow God in a culture hostile towards their family and faith. Esther, a seemingly powerless and ordinary girl, is elevated to a position where she can save the entire Jewish nation.
The Russian-French artist Marc Chagall beautifully depicted Esther in his collection Drawings for the Bible. Contrary to the notion that queens live comfortable, fun, and appealing lives, Esther’s seriousness and grief are so real and visceral in this drawing. You can almost hear her crying out “I don’t want to be here.” I doubt this is how Esther imagined her life to be, but God had plans.
When placed in a situation of discomfort, risk, and persecution, God used Queen Esther to save many lives. Her trust and commitment to God lead her to the place and task He created her for.
This year has looked a lot different for the Church. We worship alone on Sundays. We fellowship through a screen or masked and six feet apart. There are no Sunday morning hugs before services, meals shared together on Wednesday nights, or high fives as kids walk into youth group. 2020 has been a year marked by disturbance and distance.
Even in the uncertainty, the grief, or the loneliness, God has plans for your life. Perhaps in this unexpected season, you’re right where God wants you to be. Ministry doesn’t have to be glamorous, fun, or comfortable. Maybe ministry is just listening to the Lord and going where He leads.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.