As women of faith, it can be difficult to find "modern" role models in the pages of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. Both Old and New have been used out of context to excuse the poor treatment of women and justify sexist, incorrect beliefs about the differences between men and women. God never intended for our faith to be a form of bondage nor did God intend for women to feel obligated to be obedient or submissive when something is just plain wrong.
Esther is one of those women. We are blessed with a female role model who disregarded cultural expectations and did not wait for her husband, the king, to come to her. Esther risked her life to go to him and plead for her people in an effort to prevent what could have been a genocide of the Jewish people while they were in Persia. Esther trusted in God and was willing to risk her life to do the right thing, even if it wasn't the "womanly" thing to do.
It can be tempting to hide behind our femininity, excusing our behavior or fear with excuses that men have made for us. But by stepping out of her place, Ester was able to save the lives of thousands of people. A true woman of faith knows when it is time to stay quiet and when it is time to take courage and speak up. Even Esther waited until the perfect moment, hosting two banquets rather than one to ensure her husband would listen to her request. We serve God when we listen and courageously follow where we are called, even if it isn't a traditional woman's place.
We serve with courage, like Esther when we:
In many ways, Esther was a traditional woman of her time. There is nothing wrong with fulfilling that role and place. But when trouble knocks, we need to be prepared to arm ourselves in faith and risk our comfort to do the right thing. Esther could have lost her favored position, been imprisoned, or even killed for speaking out against the king. We may rock the boat by stepping up and out, but when God calls for us to take courage, we can count on a greater good waiting for us and those we serve.
Like Esther, Mary's life is not traditional. She was unmarried and pregnant! Yet, she still had the courage to pursue the life God had planned for her. Let us intercede through Mary today for courage like hers and like Esther's. Let us take heart in that bravery, that even if we don't fit the societal standards of a woman surrounded by her children, content in her home, we are following what God has chosen for us. There are many paths available to us, if only we are brave enough to listen and pursue them.