The One With the Old Testament Stories

by Ruth Hallstead

With the start of the new semester, it can feel like you might not be in the right place right now. Whether this is because you did some serious thinking about your future (aka had an existential crisis… or several), or your grades from last semester cast some serious doubt on the practicality of your dreams; right now you might be feeling like the exiled Hebrews. Stuck in a foreign country and not sure what to do. The Hebrews were told to just hang out in Babylon until…later, I guess. That can be a hard message to stomach. When your world falls apart as your path suddenly hits a dead end or reaches a bazillion pronged fork, “build a house and live in it” seems like terrible advice. Let’s fast forward a bit. Imagine being called to the palace in a strange land and then several weeks later becoming the new queen. Oh, and you’ve hidden your faith and can’t let anyone find out. Not only are you stuck in a foreign land (okay, this was technically after exile ended, but some Hebrews stayed where they were at), but now you’re the wife of a temperamental king and harboring an intense secret. Welcome to Esther’s life. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther’s story, her big moment was saving the Hebrew people from unrestrained slaughter through an intense saga of calculated flattery and meticulously following royal procedure. However, what she did isn’t the focus here. Instead a conversation she had with her cousin is what really hits home. When she is tasked with stopping the impending slaughter, her cousin encourages her by saying “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this”. I love this part of the story. First of all, no one says that she is queen because now she can save the Jews. Instead her cousin says perhaps. Second, she appeared to have no purpose whatsoever when suddenly, a possible (absolutely terrifying, potentially deadly) path appears! To me this is a story of hope. Esther never knew if this is why she ended up where she did. Yet she pushed onward, working towards something, until a path made itself visible. When your plans change, you may not know why for a long time, or even ever. Yet just like Esther, never give up. Continue pushing forwards. Pick something good (or at least less bad) in the situation and go with that. Ride that hope until you find something else. Eventually your path will be made clear. It may take a while, and it won’t be easy. It’ll probably be scary. But as our fearless leader often says, the worst thing is never the last thing.