It is hard for me to pick favorites – songs, books, movies – but hands down, I can say for sure that One Night With the King is my favorite movie. It is a dramatized and beautifully put together telling of the story of Esther. She’s one of those often looked over, yet incredibly strong women of the Old Testament.
The book is only a few chapters long so I would suggest you just go read it. Or the movie is on Hulu currently(yup I’ll be watching it like every day). Here’s the cliff-notes version: Esther, a Jew, lives in the kingdom of Persia, the former Babylon. Her people are technically free, but still looked down upon. The queen of Persia has angered the king and after divorcing her, he seeks a new queen. All of the eligible women of the kingdom are brought before him and Esther “pleased him and won his favor.” She kept her heritage a secret, for fear of not being accepted. Eventually, the Jews are once again targeted for persecution. Esther, however, in a position to act as their savior. Like many heroes of the bible she does not feel up to the task and is deathly afraid of risking her life. This story speaks wonderfully to the perfect mystery of God’s plan. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, wonders, “Who knows but that it was for a time like this that you obtained the royal dignity?” Going before the king with her request could cost Esther her life, but she is prepared to make this sacrifice for her people. “I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If I perish, I perish!”
It is often emphasized that Esther declines to array herself in mounds of ridiculous golden adornments. Her only jewelry is usually a simple necklace given to her by her deceased parents, which, when caught in the right light, reflects the star of David. Yet, in her simple beauty, Esther captured the heart of the king. In the bible, we read that, “She glowed with the perfection of her beauty and her countenance was as joyous as it was lovely, though her heart was shrunk with fear.”
So Esther has the courage of a lion and beauty beyond all compare. Why is this? She knows her identity as a beloved daughter of God.
Knowing our identity as children of God is so, so important and Esther totally gets this. When she reveals her true identity to the king it is as “Hadassah…child of the Most High God.”
Really knowing and owning this core of my identity is something I, and most people struggle with. When we are bombarded daily with heinous lies about our worth, it is easy to miss the whisper of Truth.
This past January, I was blessed to be able to attend The Jesus Retreat. The first time I went I met the TOR Sisters, so it holds a special place in my heart. Much of the weekend is spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, praying with and for one another. We allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, and that means often praying for strangers. At one point during the weekend, a man came up to me and asked if he could pray with me. Without knowing me at all, and what I struggle with, he reminded me that I am a daughter of the King, a princess, and wonderful in God’s eyes. He asked if I really believed this. I told him yes, but later I wondered, do I really? Although I might know this on some level, it doesn’t always reach my heart and I don’t always live out that identity. When we don’t really believe this Truth, we look for worth in places other than God. This leads to insecurity which in turn can lead to dark and empty places where we hurt God, ourselves, and others(aka sin).
We are afraid to reveal ourselves, or what we believe to be our true selves, because we are afraid of what others will think. Esther, or Hadassah, revealed her true identity to the king, and rather than rejecting her, he was able to love her even more deeply. He knew her, and loved her. (However we also must protect ourselves through chastity – Esther could reveal herself fully to the king because they were married – but that’s a whole other tangent)
If you can relate to this, I would invite you to meditate on the story of Esther and your worth, which is based solely on being a beloved child of God. Allow yourself to just be-loved! The definition of beloved is “dear to the heart”; you are dear to His sacred heart!
“From the day I was brought here till now, your handmaid has had no joy except in you, O Lord, God of Abraham.”