E S T H E R
The story of Queen Esther can be found tucked in the pages of the Old Testament before the book of Job. She is remembered as a courageous heroine because of the way she risked her life to save her people.
I’ve always been drawn to Esther because I believe there is so much more to her story that we can read between the lines. We know of her great beauty and her big moment in the palace but so little of her heart. She was an exile, an orphan and had little choice in the trajectory of her life as she was selected by the king with a crown placed on her head. I often wonder what hopes and dreams she may have had.
There is no mention of God in the book of Esther, yet we see the way He is working in the midst of the story as it unfolds within the captivating narrative. I’m curious to know how Esther saw God at work in her own life with all the hardships she had faced.
The scripture points us to her big moment; Esther is confronted with a hopeless situation where death seems to be the most likely outcome. How did Esther feel about this situation she was faced with? It wasn’t something she asked for or something she could run from. “Though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” How did these words flow from her as she sent this message to her beloved cousin? Were they spoken with courageous strength or through tears of travail and fear?
It was her moment to rise and shine, but I wonder what prayers she said leading up to the inner court of the palace where she would face the king’s scepter. Were they similar to what Jesus asked His father before the cross? “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The Persian name Esther means ‘star.’ In Hebrew the root word for Esther means ‘Hidden or concealed.’ I wonder in this moment if Esther would have liked to remain hidden. To continue to conceal her identity and not have to face something that was too big for her.
The morning she awoke and put on her royal robes to make her way to the king did her knees buckle and tremble? Or perhaps she felt boldness knowing that God was with her and came to a place of surrender. We will never know, but the story shows us a woman who risked it all and stood before a king. She didn’t hide. She soared.
This is the moment I wanted to capture in my portrait of Esther. I wanted to imagine what soaring looked like for our heroine - after she was on the other side of this historical moment that would be remembered and passed on from generation to generation. When she could look back and see all that God had done.
I think we all have seasons where we face an Esther moment. Where we have to make decisions or find ourselves on trajectories or paths where we face things that feel out of control or too big for us. This story is one that reminds me of how to face the unknown but also to imagine what fulfillment might look like when we soar. From an exiled orphan to a queen – This is E S T H E R.