The writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders once said: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Odd as it may seem, some psychological research maintains the sentiment reflected in the above quote, namely, that we are shaped and influenced by the chance events of life.
When you read the life of Esther, you might be tempted to conclude that her life was a chain of chance events which ended up in the most chance event of all, a Jewish orphan marrying the ruler of the Persian empire. That is certainly how some people in Esther’s day might have seen it.
But not so the generations of Jewish readers who would read the story of Esther as a reminder of God’s deliverance. For them, each detail of the story was woven into God’s providential plan for His people.
One aspect of that plan that comes to the fore, is how Esther found favour with the most unlikely people. First of all, she won the favour of Hegai (Esther 2.9 NIV, ESV), who was in charge of the king’s harem. Then we are told that she won favour with everyone (2.15 NIV, ESV). And finally, she won favour with the king (2.17NIV, ESV).
This did not all happen by chance. Nor did it happen simply because God had somehow predestined it that way, that is if you understand predestination as fate. Esther had a part to play. She won the favour of Hegai, everyone else and the king.
Proverbs 3.3-4 says:
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man. “
Our lives are not shaped by chance. They are shaped by the providence of God. By his favour. But that is not some sort of fatalistic mechanism that operates without our co-operation. Like Esther we have to win the favour of those whom God wants to make favourable to us. And that greatest of books of wisdom, Proverbs, shows us that we win favour through consistent love and faithfulness to the people around us.
If you want to win favour, let love and faithfulness never leave you. Or as The Message puts it, “Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty”.