Comfort Zone

A summer sermon series on classic stories of the Bible has landed me in Esther. Truth be told, Esther’s story may be one of the lesser known of the well-known bible stores (most of which are about men), but I was determined to tell the story of a woman. Deborah, Rahab, Delilah, Elizabeth, Eve, and all the Marys popped up in my mind, but I have always loved Esther’s story because she reminds us that we can find ourselves in a place we never expected, doing a thing we never thought we would do, and suddenly, it all comes out okay. This was my exact experience when I did five years of jail ministry. God indeed has a tremendous capacity for pushing us out of our comfort zone.

You may remember that Esther was the winner of a beauty contest that she had no intention of joining. She was selected by the Persian King Xerxes to replace his fallen queen, and she was installed as the new queen. Unbeknownst to the court, Esther is an exiled Jew from Jerusalem, and had no business being there. Her nationality and family were a secret, but her faithful cousin Mordecai, who brought her to the court, is able to keep an eye on her.

While waiting at the King’s gate to check in on her, Mordecai overhears a plot to assassinate the king, and immediately tells Esther. She tells the king, giving credit to Mordecai, and the would-be assassins are killed.

But trouble begins to brew for Mordecai when he refuses to bow to Haman, the highest-ranking nobleman. Much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Mordecai takes a stand against bowing to anyone but God. Haman responded by putting out a decree that all the Jews should be killed, and he tricked and bribed the king into sending it out under the king’s seal.

In desperation, Mordecai sends word to Esther. He asks her to intercede, but for Esther to approach the King when she hasn’t been sent for would mean certain death, according to the law.

Esther 4 (New King James Version)

11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” 12 So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.

Mordecai sends word back to Esther and urged that she reconsider her leverage in this matter:

13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 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?”

Such a beautiful sentence, one which makes us pause to consider OUR purpose and place in the kingdom.

For such a time as this, you have been called to speak out.

For such a time as this, you have been instructed to intercede.

For such a time as this, God invites you to take a stand.

Where and how does this speak to you? Is God calling you to act? Are you in a place you never meant to be? Are you meant to step way out of your comfort zone to do something big, new, and scary?

If this relates to your situation, read this next part carefully. Every big change of direction requires a period of silence, prayer, discernment, and perhaps even fasting. Watch what Esther does:

1Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

We have to admire this woman’s boldness, but also recognize that it was a matter of submission to the mission God had given her.

Do you have a mission? Submit, and you will be blessed.

Royal Garden by Suzanne Wrenn


Deception. Revenge. A double-cross. A beautiful queen. A wrathful king. Political intrigue. A nation hanging in the balance.

Believe it or not, this is not a description of the latest Netflix series or an update on the Harry and Meghan story. No, this twisting plot is from the Old Testament, and is found in a book that never mentions God once.


Esther was a beautiful jewess who was given to the Persian King Xerxes after she won a beauty pageant that was held to find a new queen. Her benefactor and older cousin Mordecai received a position in the palace as well, infuriating a jealous and insecure man named Haman. Haman then plotted to annihilate the jews in order to rid himself of this competition. But the plot backfired when Esther, now the queen, leveraged the king’s favor and asked him to save her people:

Esther 7 (Contemporary English Version)

7 The king and Haman were dining with Esther and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”

Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That’s what I really want, because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”

“Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.

Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”

Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.

In a beautiful twist of events, Haman’s scheme to hang Mordecai is used against him:

Then Harbona, one of the king’s personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a tower seventy-five feet high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”

Earlier, Mordecai had uncovered a plot to assassinate the king, and acted quickly enough to save the king’s life. Xerxes is infuriated to learn that Haman is now plotting to execute Mordecai.

“Hang Haman from his own tower!” the king commanded. 10 Right away, Haman was hanged on the tower he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.

20 Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to the Jews everywhere in the provinces 21 and told them:

Each year you must celebrate on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, 22 the days when we Jews defeated our enemies. Remember this month as a time when our sorrow was turned to joy, and celebration took the place of crying. Celebrate by having parties and by giving to the poor and by sharing gifts of food with each other.

And thus began the celebration known as Purim, which commemorates this turn of events that saved a nation, and celebrates the woman who used her influence to bring it all about. Esther understood that she had been brought into the kingdom ”for such a time as this,” and trusted that the time would come when she could save her people. And so she did.

This story is a great reminder to us today to celebrate the victories that come in the midst of hardship. It is important to acknowledge even small steps forward when you are in the midst of a trying time. Every kindness shown to you, every good health report, a child getting all A’s on their report card, the completion of one more chemo … celebrating these moments center your faith on the One who provides them. Purim is a Jewish feast designed to remember when a time of sorrow had turned to joy, and celebrants are encouraged to share that joy by giving to the poor and sharing gifts of food. Perhaps we also could give a gift of generosity when we receive a small triumph.

Do you have something to celebrate today? Can you recall a time when God put you in a place of influence to do something good for someone? God’s invitation is to pause and remember … and mark your joy with a gift of generosity. We give thanks to God in ALL things! He is our provider, our sustainer, and our rescuer.

Joy by Michelle Robertson