Finding My Voice

June 6, 2024

...And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (Esther 4:14)

The seed for this blog was planted on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel, two years before I was diagnosed with autism. 

Over the course of that trip, I reread the Book of Esther. Twice.

It was an odd choice of reading.  Because, the truth was, I had never liked Esther. Now I realized why. Esther was powerlessness young girl in a patriarchal society and that struck a chord in me.

Recognizing this made it possible for me to connect with the story. I finished the Book of Esther on the plane to Tel Aviv, and then I read it again in between the events that affected me so profoundly during my trip.

In Israel, I saw something of what it meant to survive as a people. And somehow, in relation to that, I started to understand what survival meant to Esther. And to me.

Looking at it through that lens, I saw that while my story was smaller than hers, it was substantially larger than my fears and insecurities. So, when I got home, I decided it was time to find my voice, as Esther had, and I wanted to do it through writing.

So I wrote and rewrote and finally, fairly recently, I began to see that it wasn't just about striving. It was about timing.

And timing is a thing in Esther.

In reading and rereading Esther, I had realized something. Esther wasn't powerless. She was waiting.

As a young Jewish girl married to the Persian King, Esther had to be careful. The King didn't know she was Jewish and there were a lot of people in Persia who hated the Jews. One of the biggest haters in fact was the evil Haman, advisor to the King, who was already plotting to exterminate the Jews of Persia. 

Esther's uncle Mordecai tells her about the plot, but Esther doesn't do anything.

Mordecai urges Esther to stand up for her people, suggesting she was brought to the kingdom for “such a time as this.” Esther doesn't disagree with him but instead of acting impulsively, she calls for a fast. 

When the fast is finished, Esther gathers up her courage and approaches the King. The King could have had her executed for the affront, but doesn't. Instead, he accepts her invitation to come to a banquet she has prepared, and he agrees to bring his advisor Haman, the Jew-hater.

The King still doesn't know that Esther is Jewish. And the expectation you have, as you read the story, is that Esther is going to tell him.  But she doesn't. Instead, she invites the King and Haman to a second banquet to be held on the following evening.

On the surface, it doesn’t really make sense. What difference, we wonder, will one day make? 

And then, that night, the king is unable to sleep. So he calls for the records of the realm and discovers an account of a recent assassination plot. For the first time, the king learns it was a Jew who foiled the attempt on his life. 

The king doesn't realize that this Jew is Esther's uncle Mordecai, but he is about to find out. Because now it is time to speak.

The following evening at the banquet, Esther tells the king about her heritage and her people and how Haman intends to destroy them. And the king is disposed to listen.

The Jews of ancient Persia are saved from annihilation, and Esther has found her voice. 

 All things have their season... under heaven. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)

Post a Comment