One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament - and the whole Bible for that matter - is that of Queen Esther. There are many personal reasons why I am drawn to this amazing account; however, even if the Lord had not written it on my heart in such a personal way, it is undeniably one of the most fascinating moments in Israel's history. We could spend hours and days dissecting each portion of it, but what I am drawn to highlight today is simply this: Her name.
The beautiful Jewish woman who was chosen by the Persian king, Xerxes, to succeed Vashti as his queen. The one who gained favor and rose to royalty, all the while concealing her Jewish heritage in obedience to her cousin. The one who through humble obedience and courage stepped up with the intercession that led to the salvation of her people.
Esther is how we know her. This name comes from the Persian word meaning "star". This leads me to believe that Mordecai's urging to conceal her ancestry carried over into her whole identity. Perhaps this had been the practice before her time in the palace, as well. Her name in Hebrew, however, was Hadassah.
Hadassah is a Hebrew word meaning "the myrtle". While this may seem insignificant, there is something that stirs strongly in me about it. The beautiful trees that we see in bloom right now became my favorite a few years ago, I believe, when I learned the meaning of Hadassah's name. Why? Well, it may seem strange to you, but here is how I process things:
The myrtle is blooming so brightly and gorgeously right now in the heat of the summer. They stand out, as most other flowering trees in our area have long lost their blossoms. So I see them as a tree that shines when the heat is turned up, when the circumstances shouldn't be ideal, when blooming where planted might be difficult.
Is that not the picture of Esther? Of Hadassah? She rose to the occasion when the heat was turned up, when what was required of her was more than what she wanted...but was the reason why she was planted there in the first place. She bloomed and stood out graciously and gorgeously when fear could have caused her to remain hidden and silent.
I challenge you to look at the myrtle trees as you go about your day today and think of her. I encourage you to dig deep and tell your courage to rise as the heat of your circumstances rises.
You were planted here for such a time as this.
Bloom as the myrtle...and shine like a star. : )
Father, I long to have the courage that she exhibited in the role that she played. I want to fearlessly bloom when the heat is rising. Help me to lean upon You just as Esther did that day. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
The Book of Esther - Chapters 1-10