I’ve often heard that you should never tell a person there’s a purpose for the difficult season they are walking through or a reason for their purpose. Some have claimed that it diminishes their hurt and experience. However, I don’t see it this way. Certainly, there are moments to sit with the pain. Having walked through incredible darkness myself, I discovered that holding on to hope that it wasn’t all for nothing, that my pain wouldn’t be wasted, was what got me through many dark nights.
Do you ever wonder what your purpose is or what good could possibly come out of the challenging situations you face? Have you considered that perhaps you were meant to overcome that trial, grow from it, and help others? Have you considered that maybe you were created for such a time as this?
The story of Queen Esther in the Bible has been on my mind a lot this year. Her story is one of adversity and danger, fear, and the threat of death. But Esther found the courage to save not only herself but the lives of thousands of other people. Even though she was embroiled in a powerful conflict, she was in the right place at the perfect time. As her uncle, Mordecai, penned in a letter to her: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Perhaps this is how you and I need to look at the dark, dangerous, and hurtful times in our lives. These experiences have been allowed to come into our lives to help us learn, grow, and help others. Others have used their experiences to help us in our time of need, and we are given the great privilege of passing that on to others. We find healing in helping others and finding a purpose for our pain. And perhaps we, too, are in the right place at the right time – for such a time as this.
Who Was Queen Esther?
In 479 B.C., the Jewish people were living in captivity and exile. The Israelites were taken into captivity when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 597 B.C. Sixty years later, Persia sacked Babylon, and the Israelites were again displaced.
Hadassah was a Jewish girl who was born in Persia during this time. Orphaned at a young age, her uncle Mordecai raised her and chose to keep their identities as Jews secret to avoid persecution and discrimination. He had risen to an influential and esteemed position in the king’s court.
The King of Persia, Xerxes, was proud and impulsive. After his wife, Queen Vashti, disobeyed his order for her to parade herself in front of male guests at a lavish party the King had thrown. His retaliation was swift, and he banished Vashti. A search ensued for a new bride for the king among the beautiful young ladies of Persia.
Hadassah was chosen to become one of many young women presented to the king. She changed her name to Esther and concealed her nationality. Her beauty and presence pleased the king, who crowned her queen.
Even as queen, Esther had few rights. And I’m sure it wasn’t far from her mind that she had replaced a queen that had been too assertive. When Xerxes’ right-hand man, Haman, issued an edict that ordered the extermination of the Jews, Queen Esther had to choose courage to approach a king who could execute her for coming to him without being called.
Imagine the fear she felt knowing that her husband could order her death. If she remained quiet, she would be discovered as a Jew and die when the mandate was carried out. All of her friends and family, her nation, would be destroyed. How many times did she beg God to remove her from that situation? How many tears did she cry?
Esther approached King Xerxes after praying and fasting for three days. He received her, listened to her, and though he could not reverse an edict, he gave the Jews the power to fight back and overcome their enemies.
The chronicle of Esther’s life is full of plot twists and courage. You can watch an overview of her story here.
Where is God in All This?
When going through dark days and storms in our lives, it’s natural to question where God is in any of it. Some days it seems He is silent or that He’s gone missing if He was ever there at all.
God is not mentioned one time in the Book of Esther, yet it is clear that He has His hand on the situation. Mordecai, in his letter to Esther, shows his faith. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverace for the Jews will arise from another place” (Esther 4:13). Esther and the Jews pray and fast for three days before she approaches the king. Even when God may seem absent, they still pursued His help. And He provided.
As Max Lucado writes in his book For Such a Time as This, “God is still eloquent in his seeming silence and still active when He appears most distant.”
God of the Plot Twist
I won’t tell you that whatever you are facing will resolve overnight, get better, or become easier. Life is so hard, and hurt runs so deep as we grapple with unexpected tragedy, betrayal, loss, and change. Dealing with trauma, mindsets, and emotions can take years of going to battle against them. It’s exhausting on a molecular level and oftentakes resources.
However, I will tell you that you are not alone. God loves you and carries you through those days you think you can’t take another step. And He is the God of the plot twist. Look at these plot twists in the Book of Esther:
- A Jewish girl becomes the Queen of Persia,
- Mordecai is honored instead of Haman,
- Haman, who sought to deprive Jews of their lives, loses his,
- The Jewish people thrive instead of losing their lives.
The outcome of your situation may look very different from what you planned or hoped. My life certainly looks nothing like I thought it would. But I’m discovering that turning my hurt into help for others helps me heal, and it’s making a difference for others walking the same road. I never know what plot twist God will throw at me next, but I hold on to hope because I know He is a good God.
For Such a Time as This
There are days when the grief and hurt well up, and it’s almost impossible to stay optimistic. There are days where you can’t remember if you’ve eaten or even showerered.
Remember that on the darkest days, the hardest days, you are not alone. You are loved and held close to God’s heart. There is no problem or hurt so great that God is not greater still. And remember that you can make a difference. You can bring healing and help to others who need it, and your story will someday be someone else’s survival guide. Remember that you were created for such a time as this.