Go! for Lent: Esther 4:16
The Book of Esther is one of my favorite stories of The Bible. There’s a lot of learnings and reflections we can make from this novel. Esther 4:16 is a powerful and inspiring verse for this Lent season. What can we learn from this Jewish woman, also allegedly Queen of Persia?
We may think of Esther as a heroine, and yes, she was a great leader that risked everything, including her life. This woman knew very well the risk in her decision of disobeying king’s law. She could perish, but she decided to put her confidence in God’s providence. Her strength and courage is admirable, especially for us women of faith that face daily challenges in our societies and, yes, sadly in some ways inside our Church. Oh, yeah, Esther could be a great role model in leadership…
BUT, are we aware that she said “no” the first time she was asked to intercede for her people? Mordecai, her guardian, had to insist with strong words. He reminded her that the unfair annihilation will be the fate of their people, but also for her. I don’t know what you think of this, but to me is good to know that this great leader had doubts, probably fear. Sometimes it is our human nature to resist changes, especially when you know in your heart that you will be exposed, pointed at, and maybe at risk of losing something precious as your status quo, your serenity, or even your life.
Once Esther turned her fear into confidence, this beautiful girl became a strong leader for a people in disgrace. She was capable of guiding not only Mordecai, her master, but all the Jews in Susa in order to fast on her behalf. I like to think that part of her strength came from the fact that her people were fasting with her, that she was not alone: there was a community of faith interceding for her, as well as her interceding for them before the king. When a group of believers is united by a fast – and we know that in the Bible, a fast is always linked to prayer – great things could and do happen.
Esther and her people found favor in the sight of the king. During this Lent, Esther reminds us how we are called to be leaders, even if we feel incapable of taking risks, even if we say “no” initially to God’s calling. We may seek the spiritual support of our communities. Great leaders are humble enough to give and receive support from their communities. Let’s tell them “Go… hold a fast on my behalf…”