June 21 | Daily Devotion

June 21 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

Esther is a beautiful Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia while Israel is in exile. Her story most likely takes place sometime before Ezra returned to Jerusalem to oversee temple worship. The book reveals the glory of Persian kings, their vast empire, lavish feasts (often lasting for weeks), and beautiful concubines. It also shows the power of Persian kings and the vulnerability of the worshipping community in exile. One stroke of the pen (or press of the ring to be more exact) and the entire Jewish race faced extinction. In an empire so vast, a crafty court official could get the king’s seal to carry out his personal whims. The king had so many things vying for his attention on a daily basis he simply didn’t have time to personally investigate every request.

The book of Esther has been ignored throughout the history of the Christian tradition due to its “secular” feel. Indeed, the name of God appears nowhere in the book. But, as biblical commentators have observed, this is intentional. Esther shows that God is at work even when we cannot see Him. By His providential (but hidden) hand, Esther becomes queen at just the right time to save her people. Without once penning His name, the writer clearly illustrates that God is watching over His people through the commonplace events that make up their days. The lesson of Esther is that God works in extraordinary ways through ordinary means.

In Christian theology, this is known as the providence of God, or the sovereignty of God. The concepts of providence and sovereignty are nearly identical. However, sovereignty places the emphasis on God’s rule over all things, whereas providence emphasizes God’s care or provision (thus the word providence). In John Calvin’s theological masterpiece, Institutes of the Christian Religion, he observed, “God’s providence does not always meet us in its naked form.” Instead, it “clothes” itself through means. In other words, God is often at work through the ordinary, the everyday, job offers, chance encounters, or the counsel of a friend over a cup of coffee.

When you understand that God’s providence exists and it includes you, your eyes will open to the many ways He is at work in your life! Don’t make the mistake of looking for God only in the miraculous. Yes, His work can be dramatic and forceful, but He is also active in the mundane happenings of a day. He is working in extraordinary ways to accomplish extraordinary things through very ordinary means. So look for Him at work in your life today, in the ordinary. And when you see His providence, even though it may be “clothed, “ give Him praise. God is at work providing for you!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.