Playing the Waiting Game: Esther (@JHOsborn)


I’ve read and written an awful lot about waiting. I fully believe waiting is a spiritual discipline. Waiting on God is hard because he doesn’t work to our timetable!

I don’t know about you, but my life is full to the brim: husband, 2 boys at school, one teenage lodger, a home, a paid job, church, Youthwork, extended family and many lovely friends all over the country. And that’s without including the reading, writing or other hobbies. Life is chaotic on the outside and often on the inside too. I have an internal monologue which rarely stops, providing an incessant commentary backdrop to whatever is going on around me. This is both a good thing and a real pain in the bum at times. I’m in great danger of allowing my thoughts to run off unchecked and that’s when I can get myself into ridiculous corners of my own making! It all adds up to a life which isn’t really cut out for waiting, I get impatient so quickly and have a tendency to just move on in my head if not actually physically. Of course this digital life doesn’t help – having so much at the touch of a button or click of the mouse does not make us better at waiting in a queue! My heart sinks at seeing the message ‘Please do not shut down. Installing update 1 of 15…’ at the end of a long day, technology is great, but I do not see it encouraging us to have more patience!

Of course if we’re not careful we make an idol out of how busy life is, this is especially true in church circles where so often our success is measured by how ‘involved’ we are in the ‘life of the church’. If we’re not careful with this our

By Hluup (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Hluup (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

churches become dry places where the wind of the spirit cannot blow because there’s no room or maybe because there are too many walls being built by busy people. One very good friend told me church is often like a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces are in the right places. We’re very good at putting people to work, are we as good at finding out what really makes them tick, where their gifts are and then allowing the spirit to place them correctly? And so waiting on God, for his prompting to place us, to reveal his purposes for us becomes all the more important in this context.

Back to Esther: A young girl forced to become part of a foreign King’s entourage against her own will and seemingly against her faith which has to remain a secret in this place of strange religious rituals where lip-service to the King’s chosen god is the done thing. Still, her trust in the one true God is unfaltering and she finds herself chosen by the King to become his Queen, and all of a sudden it becomes even more important that she does not reveal her allegiance to her people or her God. Years pass in which she is Queen, some accounts suggest there was at least one failed pregnancy as well as a ‘lost love’, a boy whom she had loved before being taken from her home to the harem in the palace. Years of waiting and wondering: God, what am I doing here? Why have you placed me here? Many situations in which she must be careful not to reveal herself a Jew and yet must stay loyal to God; what pressure she must have felt even before the point at which she realises now is the time for action, that now she must risk everything up to this point by speaking out!

We read the account of Esther and marvel at her tenacity and courage to do the things she did, the Jewish community celebrate these very laudable traits in the annual Purim festival. They were dark days for the Jews and Esther’s actions saved the whole race from extinction by the hand of the Babylonians.

I wonder though whether Esther really felt brave. Did she have an inkling of what weight her actions were carrying? Certainly her story has given many others down the years the courage to do what God is asking them to do despite knowing it could get very uncomfortable and painful. And I know many people now who are challenged by the waiting for God to reveal his plan. Esther probably only saw it in hindsight, as we so often do, and perhaps that’s part of God’s mysterious ways.

May we who wait do so with the right heart, let’s not allow our own impatience get the better of us; and may we be ready to risk everything when God says: NOW!

About Jenni Osborn