“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
~ Esther 4:15
Taking hold of the seasonal opportunities God brings us — the windows that He opens — can end up making a big difference in both our lives, and the lives of others. Our daily lives are actually an open window full of God-given opportunities, just as was true for Queen Esther.
We may go through those open windows and turn them into opportunities to achieve great things. Or we may waste them by doing nothing. Sometimes those missed opportunities may not come back again. Some of them are seasonal, a small gap just pried open, with various conditions attached. God’s favour can sometimes be a seasonal privilege sometimes, like a cheque which must be cashed before the expiry date.
Returning to the Scriptures, Esther was born during the Jewish exile in Persia, an empire that stretched from India to northern Africa, and which covered over 127 provinces. Esther was an orphan girl raised by her uncle, Mordecai (Esther 2:5-14). In the beginning, everything seemed hopeless and helpless for the poor young girl.
Then the Persian King Ahasuerus invited all the noblemen and governors for a feast to celebrate the achievements of his domain. The feast lasted over 180 days. At the peak of the festivities, when the King was in high spirits, intoxicated by wine, and with power rushing to his head, he gave a command. He sent his servants to bring his beautiful queen Vashti, to display her beauty to the entire world.
Queen Vashti declined the King’s demand, and then she was swiftly removed from the throne and banished from the palace. Later, the King’s noble advisors recommended that a search be made all over the 127 provinces for beautiful virgins. Once found, they must go through a year-long preparation. In what we might call a Miss World contest, who ever among them pleased the King would be chosen to be the next queen (Esther 1:1-2:14). The idea pleased the King, and the advisors went ahead with the plan.
To everyone’s surprise, Esther, the orphan girl with a humble background, won the King’s heart. She was dutifully crowned the Queen of the Persian Empire, and was given vast influence, honour, wealth and privileges (Esther 2:15-18). This was Esther’s seasonal open window of opportunity. And she stepped through it.
But the Jews had an enemy, and that was Haman. Haman hated the Jews, and he especially hated Mordechai, who failed to show him honour at the King’s gate. Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people from the face of the earth. With evil intent, Haman went to the King and requested for an edict to be written to all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire for the annihilation of the Jews on a specific day of the year and he was willing and ready to pay the cost to carry out the evil plans (Esther 3:1-4:13).
The King granted his requests and an edict was proclaimed in all provinces of the empire. Haman also had a seasonal open window of opportunity. But he tried to use it for evil.
Mordechai alerted Queen Esther to the evil plot of Haman, and the impending death threat for the Jewish people all over the world. He requested Queen Esther to use her influence to seek help from the King and to help the Jewish people by overturning the evil and destructive plans of Haman.
Queen Esther was reluctant to involve herself and risk her position and her very life. Sometimes leaving our comfort zone can be challenging, especially if it involves some kind of risk. Mordechai challenged and reminded Esther of God’s plan and purpose, saying, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:15)
This agrees with what we know from other Scripture like Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God can turn around situations for our good when we cooperate with Him and align ourselves with His divine plan and purpose.
Queen Esther responded to Mordechai’s challenge to take her God-given window of opportunity to save her people:
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will as fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the King, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” So, Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
~ Esther 4:15-17
For Queen Esther, this was a bold decision, sacrificial and risky, but it was worth it to save her nation which was under the imminent threat of annihilation. Most of the time God will bless us with various earthly possessions, privileges, and influence — but it is up to each one of us to discern how to use it for God’s glory, and to make a positive impact on society (Genesis 45:5-9). As John Maxwell put it,
“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, and relationships that have lost their meaning.”
After three days of corporate fasting and prayers, along with all the wisdom and courageous action that Queen Esther could gather, the gracious Lord overturned the evil plot of Haman, and the Jews became victorious over their enemies. Their sadness turned into the joyful celebration of Purim. The purpose of that fasting and prayers had been to humble themselves, and also to focus on God and to hear clearly his voice for their lives and situation. When they did, they were then able to act by faith and with God’s power and wisdom. (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Philippians 4:13)
God is bigger than us and our challenges. He can move mountains. And through a prayer of faith, we can also move mountains (Matthew 21:21-22). As the Bible says,
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
~ Hebrews 4:16
“On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the King was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.”
~ Esther 9:1
The story of Esther teaches us that when we wisely and courageously use these God-given open windows of opportunities, then everything is possible. God used the young orphaned girl, Esther — who later became the queen of the most powerful empire — to save her nation. The same God is still able to make us a channel of His blessings to the nations, if we dare to believe, pray and act.
As someone else has said,
“God gives us opportunities to see in the dark, but it is up to us to find the light.”
That is what Apostle Paul was reminding and exhorting the Ephesian believers:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
~ Ephesians 5:14-20
In other words, do not waste time and the opportunities given to you by God. Don’t slumber or be lazy — but be wise and know the Lord’s will, and use these opportunities to glorify God and help others. History has been made by the men and women who wisely used a small window of opportunity and turned them into significant events. Let us follow the example of King David and the Apostle Paul and many others (Acts 13:22, 36; 16:23-34) who turned their world upside down for the glory of God and the salvation of many people. (Acts 17:6)
As someone has said,
“God will supply us with opportunity, but it’s up to us to do something with it.”
Our daily lives are open windows of opportunity, but our ability to discern how we use those seasonal windows of opportunity makes a big difference both in our lives and others. (Revelation 3:7-10)
Let me finish with this quote from John C. Maxwell, a question that we are to ask God every morning:
“What is the main event today? What do You want me to focus on today?”
[Photo by Matheus Frade