Who doesn’t feel intimidated from time to time when reading stories from the Old Testament? Even when we remember that situation with Bathsheba, it is still easy to admire and even hope to emulate figures like Abraham, Joseph, or David. Yet in the book of Esther, what is particularly noticeable (and even charming) is that God uses flawed men and women—both the proud and the weak—to fulfill his purposes.
In the first chapter, King Ahasuerus (a.k.a. Xerxes) is described as rash and in “high spirits from wine” (Esther 1:10, NIV). Haman is vain (Esther 3:5). Queen Vashti and Mordecai find themselves in positions of weakness and powerlessness (Esther 1:12; 3:2).
They are hardly desirable choices for their places of political power, and yet God has deemed them suitable for his purposes. God seems to choose these weak, self-seeking figures to be the ones to deliver his people yet again from destruction. In today’s reading, it is through Ahasuerus’/Xerxes’ disgrace of his wife, that a position emerges for Esther to become queen. God uses these lowly circumstances to allow greater glory for himself and his people.
We are told in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” yet it is difficult to believe that God could ever use us for his purposes. Somehow there is always someone better, more prayerful, more kind, or more thoughtful who would be a better choice to teach that Bible study, to organize a new small group, or simply to volunteer or speak.
We as Christians have seen that God did not need us to be strong, clean, and prepared for Jesus’ birth in the way that we often think of readiness. Jesus was born into a dirty stable in seemingly unrespectable circumstances. Even now, God does not need for us to be “ready” for him to do his work.
Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1:46-48).
What a lovely promise. God is mindful of the lowly state of Mary, of Joseph, of those in today’s reading, and even of you and me.