My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to the book of Esther, and the lesson was titled “Thou Art Come … for Such a Time as This.” The lesson was introduced by this paragraph:
Many events in the book of Esther might seem like luck or coincidence. How else
do you explain how an orphaned Jewish girl became the queen of Persia at just the right time to save her people from being slaughtered? What are the chances that Esther’s cousin Mordecai would just happen to overhear a plot to assassinate the king? Were these coincidences, or were they part of a divine plan? Elder Ronald A. Rasband noted: “What may appear to be a random chance is, in fact, overseen by a loving Father in Heaven. … The Lord is in the small details of our lives” (“By Divine Design,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 56). We may not always recognize the Lord’s influence in these “small details.” But we learn from Esther’s experience that He can guide our path and prepare us “for such a time” (Esther 4:14) when we can be instruments in His hands to fulfill His purposes.
This lesson contained numerous principles. The principle for this discussion is “Doing the right thing often requires great courage.” Mordecai adopted his cousin Esther when her parents died. Years later, Esther was chosen by the king of Persia to be his queen, and she did not disclose that she was a Jew.
Mordecai and Esther put their lives at risk when they stood up for their beliefs. The choices put before you and I might not be as severe as that of Mordecai and Esther, but we will need courage to do the right thing in many situations. The following scriptures tell the stories of Mordecai and Esther.
1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
2 And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.
3 Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgresses thou the king’s commandment?
4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. (Esther 3:1-4)
Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, and Haman sought to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews in the kingdom. When Mordecai learned of the decree for all Jews to be destroyed, he went to the gate of the palace and asked her to go before the king. Anyone who approached the king without his approval was in danger of being put to death. What Mordecai asked of Esther was to sacrifice her life.
10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;
11 All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
12 And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words.
13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. (Esther 4:10-17)
Esther understood the task ahead of her, and she asked Mordecai to call all the Jews in the city to fast and pray for three days and night. She knew that she could die – “if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Esther 5 tells us that the Jews, Mordecai, Esther, and her maidens fasted for three days. When the days of fasting were past, Esther put on her beautiful royal robes and went to the king’s house. She waited until the king saw her. Her heart must have been in her throat until she saw the king held out his golden scepter to her. The king asked Esther what she wanted, and she invited the king and Haman to a banquet in her rooms.
The king and Haman came to dinner, and the king was even more pleased with Esther. He asked her again what he could do for her. She told him about Haman’s proclamation to destroy all the Jews. The king ordered Haman to be hanged on the billows built for Mordecai and sent a proclamation stating that Jews could defend themselves from anyone who would try to kill them.
Mordecai and Esther showed courage in different ways, but they each had the courage to do the right thing. They had the courage to do the right thing because they put their faith in God. We can all follow Esther’s example when we are faced with difficult decisions: “When I choose the right, if I [lose friends], I [lose friends].”
When President Thomas S. Monson spoke to the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he said the following:
As I contemplate all that you face in the world today, one word comes to my mind. It describes an attribute needed by all of us but one which you—at this time of your life and in this world—will need particularly. That attribute is courage.
Tonight I’d like to talk with you about the courage you will need in three aspects of your lives:
· First, the courage to refrain from judging others;
· Second, the courage to be chaste and virtuous; and
· Third, the courage to stand firm for truth and righteousness.
(“May You Have Courage,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 123-27)
May we all have the courage to face our challenges and to choose the right. Just as God blessed Mordecai and Esther when they chose the right, I know that He will bless us also.