Esther, a tragedy?

I'm reading through Esther these days, and I'm reminded of what I'd thought a few years back, that there is quite likely sadness inside her story, or rather the rest of her story. We romanticize the story, the beauty pageant winner who comes away with the grand prize of queenship. And then the drama of Haman's plot and her counterplot to save the Jews from death.

But what was the rest of her life like? How satisfying was her marriage? The social system enabled her husband to indulge any whim he ever had for all the other attractive women surrounding him. Any time she failed to fascinate, he could restage another pageant and enthrone a new charming faced winner. What kind of marriage was it really when she still faced death any time she wanted to come to him and he didn't want to talk? Twenty, thirty years later, did she view her marriage as a Cinderella romance, or as being trapped in a gilded cage?

Did she have children? None are recorded. If she had, the system surely forbade her to have much of a role raising them. They certainly weren't given a Jewish upbringing. A daughter, raised to be another harem beauty? A son, raised to enjoy harem beauties?

What was her life like when she was sixty? Queen Mother, ritually honored but effectively ignored? Could she still manage to believe she was born for such a time as that? By God's grace she could have, she could well have been sustained by the astonishing goodness of peace and joy despite circumstances. But it would not have been easy.

But perhaps in outward loneliness, she learned and experienced the great truth that God is with us, and comforts us in any affliction. Maybe in heaven she was rewarded for more than saving the people from Haman.

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