Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him. – Esther 1:1-3
A natural response for anyone who reads the book of Esther is to wonder, “Where is God in this book?” It is one of only two biblical books that don’t mention God by name. (The other is the Song of Solomon.) Why the omission? While commentators and scholars have offered all kinds of explanations, the fundamental reason why God’s name does not appear may just be the simplest: because He didn’t want it there. But that leads us to an even bigger question: Why would God not want His name in Esther’s story?
Perhaps it is because God is wanting to teach us that there will be times in life when He is apparently absent, but He’s not. Charles Spurgeon writes, “Although the name of God does not occur in the Book of Esther, the Lord himself is there most conspicuously in every incident which it relates … I have seen portraits bearing the names of persons for whom they were intended, and they certainly needed them. But we have all seen others which required no name, because they were such striking likenesses that the moment you looked upon them you knew them.”
While God’s name is missing from Esther, then, His presence is supremely evident. He is at work in the refusal of the Persian queen, Vashti, to accede to her husband’s angry demands (Esther 1:12). He is at work in making the young Jewish woman who gives her name to the book, Esther, beautiful (2:7). He is at work in the sleep patterns of the king and in his reading choices (6:1). And He is at work in overruling the hatred of the king’s first minister, Haman (8:7-8, 17). Esther lived “in the days of Ahasuerus,” the mighty Persian king. But she also lived in the days of the almighty Creator God, who rules on high. And we live in those same days.
Life’s unfolding story always reveals to us that God is in the details. The book of Esther makes clear that He is present not only in the “lightning bolts” of His intervention—in the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) or the calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41)—but also in the humdrum of life. In the everyday events, God is working His purpose out.
Perhaps you find yourself in the midst of deep darkness and circumstances that seek to overwhelm you. If so, pray that God will help you hear His word, which promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV); which assures us that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28); and which calls us to “cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). When God appears to be most absent in your life, He is still at work.