Who is your hero? Maybe it’s a sports star like Ronaldo or Jessica Ennis? A pop star like Ed Sheeran? An activist like Martin Luther or William Wilberforce? A scientist like Einstein or a family member like your mum. What is it about them that you admire? What is it that inspires you?
One of my heroes comes from the Bible. Other than Jesus, my Bible hero is Esther. She never used to be – thanks to illustrated children’s bibles I used to read I grew up seeing her as the ‘Barbie of the Bible’. In my mind she was an elegant blond, wearing a pink dress, who wins a beauty pageant and becomes a queen. It sounds more like a teen chick flick than the Bible. But I could not have been more wrong.
The story of Esther is set in the midst of a tough time for God’s people. The Jews were living in exile in Babylon under King Xerxes. The king loses his temper and sends his wife, the queen, away. Not long later he regrets his decision, and so beautiful young women are gathered from all over the kingdom. They were to be given beauty treatments, and then would have spend a night with the King (where I’m sure you can guess what would happen). They were then supposed to live in the harem as concubines for the rest of their lives. Each girl ‘would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name’.
Esther would not have had a choice about being part of this ‘beauty pageant’. In those days you didn’t disobey a decree from the king. Suddenly all Esther’s hopes and dreams were snatched from her. She was in a horrible situation, where the most probable outcome was to spend the rest of her life shut away in a harem.
What amazes me is that even when she faces some awful situations, she still has dignity and holds her head high.
The story isn’t too far from the reports we’re hearing of what happened to those kidnapped in northern Nigeria. The missing Chibok girls are said to have been forced to marry (or worse) with their captors, and many have been coerced into renouncing their faith.
But Esther, having been through similar trauma holds her head high. The Bible tells us that she gains favour with those around her, including the king, who decides to make her his queen. She later risks her life to defeat Haman, the king’s advisor who plotted to wipe out the Israelites.
The thing that amazes me most about Esther is not that she saves the Jewish people – though that is pretty impressive. What amazes me is that even when she faces some awful situations, she still has dignity and holds her head high.
Why is that? I think there is a clue is in her reaction to her uncle’s plea for her to help the Jews- she fasts. Her response was to turn to God because she knew who she was and who He is. She knew that she was one of God’s people, and that she was precious and loved by him. I think that’s why, despite the circumstances around her, she could hold her head high.
Through Open Doors I have heard about many modern day Esther’s. Women, and men, who face indescribable situations because of their faith. Real people who’s hopes and dreams are snatched away from them because of conflict and persecution. But they hold their heads high because they know who they are. They know that they are daughters and sons of the king of kings. And just like Esther, they are my heroes.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.