5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.
ESTHER 2:5-11 ESV
The Jews in exile, Mordecai and Esther, entered the stage of Susa the citadel. Like Joseph and Daniel, Mordecai and Esther were Israelites, descendants of the promised nation, taken and living in pagan lands and having to accustom to the host culture that they inhabited. In Hebrew, she was Hadassah, a child of the kingdom of God. She was also Esther, the pretty Persian girl, taken to the King’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, and being one of the young and beautiful candidates in line to become the next Queen. Her two names suggested the different identities she had to embrace. But she was called Esther, a Persian name, and had to keep her Jewish origin a secret at that moment in time.
Interestingly, the name “Esther” in Hebrew means “hidden” or “secret,” and in Persian, it means “star”. While Esther had to hide her Jewish identity, she also outshone all other beautiful young women and immediately won the heart of Hegai, and eventually the heart of the King. She shone like a star, just as her name suggested. Regardless of being Hadassah or Esther, it does not change her identity in the heart of the hidden God. And God’s plan for her is still the same. Though God was not mentioned in the book of Esther, He was with Esther, just like He was with Joseph and Daniel. He revealed Himself in the little details of Esther’s life. And He lit up her life so the hidden star could shine in the time and stage set up for her.
As Christians are being called to live in the world but not of it, we sometimes may struggle to find a good balance between our identities as children of God and pilgrims of the world.
How do I be a down-to-earth Christian without conforming to the world?
How do I shine for the hidden God?
We may not have everything figured out, but if it is God’s idea to keep us in this world, He will not leave us here alone. He is with us just as He was with Esther. As we pay attention to the little things and be keen on His grace and work, we will be able to connect the dots and notice His gracious hands are at work. He lights up our paths, and He is helping us navigate through in ways we cannot see.
He is hidden, but He is near. And like Esther, we can shine for Him.