This 12-part series takes a new look at an old story and finds fresh words of courage, faith, and challenge for today’s Church. It is based on Carol Bechtel’s commentary on Esther in the Interpretation series (Westminster John Knox, 2002).
Sleepless in Susa
Read: Esther 6:1-3
On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. (v. 1, NRSV)
Have you ever experienced a coincidence that felt more like an act of Providence? Author Frederick Buechner says that a coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous!
Much has been made of the fact that the name for God never appears in the book of Esther. Yet, God’s presence is palpable in the triple coincidence of this passage. First, the king has trouble sleeping. Then, he asks for the annals to be read to him. Finally, the passage that is read is the one about Mordecai saving the king from assassination.
Perhaps this last one wasn’t a coincidence at all, but a conscious decision on the part of the king’s servants who knew that Mordecai had not received any reward. Be that as it may, God’s fingerprints are all over the servants’ decision.
There is a sense in which the whole outcome of the book of Esther hinges on these happy coincidences. It’s a wonderful reminder of what the Heidelberg Catechism means when it talks about the fact that “without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head” (Q&A #1).
Prayer: Give us a stronger sense of your providence, O God. Help us to trust ourselves to your love and care.