CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE BOOK OF ESTHER
Another of my favorite childhood books was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. It is the story of Mary Lennox, a young orphaned girl sent to live with her uncle. It is also the story of her crippled cousin, a virtual orphan, having lost his mother physically during childbirth and his father emotionally at her death. I now watch the movie version several times a year, most recently last night—tissue in hand; soggy by the end.
I was blessed to have an intact, functional, Christian family. Both my mother and father loved me and were present, active parents. Yet I loved The Secret Garden and, at a soul level, I understood Mary Lennox, an orphan girl, heartsick for parental love.
The Book of Esther describes the wealth and grande
ur of King Xerxes’ court along with the glamour of Esther’s place in the palace. When we read the Book of Esther though, we sometimes forget that Esther was an orphan, raised by her cousin, Mordecai (“Uncle Mordecai” she called him).
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother (Esther 2:7).
Mordecai tried to do what was best for Esther. He co
unseled her, trained her and encouraged her heritage. But no one can take the place of a parent. Esther must have had a deep empty place in her heart because she had been left an orphan.
God’s plan for our earthly lives is that children be cherished and raised by a loving father and mother. Scripture recognizes the emotional and physical needs of orphans, placing on our hearts as Christians, an extra level of care for them.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).
Throughout James, the reoccurring theme is that although we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, our faith will bear fruit by what we do. And God sees our faith as pure and faultless when one thing we do is look after orphans and widows.
Many of us have been blessed with parents in our lives who cared for us as we matured into adulthood and beyond. But still, we often feel a separation between ourselves and our parents. When we were small children, we leaned on our parents for guidance in everything we said and did, modeling them as closely as we could. Yet often we felt as if we weren’t quite getting it right; feeling as if we weren’t “earning” their love.
As young adults, many of us went the opposite direction, vehemently believing that our parents knew nothing about what was good for us; what made us happy; how we wanted to live our lives. Even at a point when our values and those of our parents coincided, still there was a sense of separateness from them. We recognized that we had received life fr
om them. We recognized the part they had played in our growth and development. We were grateful for the good things we became and forgiving in ways they had fallen short of the parenting we may have needed. But often there remained a feeling of separateness.
People raised without a loving father and mother know firsthand, the loss and heartache of childhood.
God placed in our hearts not just a need for earthly parents who would steward our lives. He also placed in our hearts a deep need to be His children; to allow Him to be our eternal, Heavenly Father—the One who could provide our every need with no separation between us as we spend eternity in His arms. Psalms addressed this need.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me (Psalm 27:10).
Whether we have earthly parents; whether our earthly parents were good parents to us, we still need a spiritual father. Without God, we are spiritual orphans. Jesus confirmed this.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will a
sk the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:15-21, emphasis added).
There are many kinds of love and many ways to love people. We love our husbands differently from the way we love our girlfriends. We love our children differently from the way we love any other person. Our children, we love unconditionally. We may not always like our children or agree with their choices, but we love them nonetheless. In a microcosm, that is how God loves us. He might not always approve of what we do or think or say or the choices we make, but He loves us anyway. In fact, he has always loved us anyway, to the point that He sent Jesus to provide the only blood sacrifice worthy of His forgiveness of those bad choices we make.
It is hard to conceptualize how God loves us spiritually. We understand His provision. We understand the way He may orchestrate events or circumstances. We even may understand a portion of His plan of salvation for us.
But in addition to the unconditional love God pours into our lives, He also unconditionally loves our souls. He recognizes that all of us have empty places in our hearts that only God can fill. Only the Holy Spirit, living in us, can parent us in the way our souls need. Only the love and forgiveness of Jesus can heal the wounds of spiritual childhood and grow us more like Him.
God recognizes that we are spiritual orphans in this world. He stands ready to adopt us into his family. Mordecai took over parenting Esther, as his own daughter. God will take over our spiritual parenting, when He adopts us into His family.
If Esther were here, she would say this was her story.
She was an orphan and knew what it was to live without a father and mother who loved her unconditionally.
Who are we to God? When we recognize that we are spiritual orphans without our Heavenly Father, we understand how He might see His women of faith. We can answer:
I am (like) Esther.
For Thought and Discussion
- In what ways have you felt like an orphan—as a child, in school, at home, in society, at work, at church?
- Did you feel secure in your parents’ love? Where there times you didn’t live up to your parents’ expectations?
- What does it mean to be a child of God?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you that we are no longer orphans, but are fully your children. Please reassure us daily that you are our Heavenly Father and that we will never be orphaned. Thank you, Jesus for making it so. Amen.
Click HERE to read the entire book of Esther
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Scripture to meditate on and learn from. Thank you for making us teachable, Jesus, and for not giving up on us as we stumble along in our faith. Show us how you see us as your precious daughters—daughters of the King. Amen.
Carol Peterson, Author, is a member of the Ruby Blogger Team and a regular contributor to the Ruby for Women as a book reviewer. You can connect with Carol on her blog, http://www.carolpetersonauthor.com