Sleepless in Susa

Read: Esther 5:6:1-3

On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. (v. 1)

Have you ever experienced a coincidence that felt more like an act of Providence? Author Frederick Buechner says that a coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous!

Much has been made of the fact that the name for God never appears in the book of Esther. Yet, God’s presence is palpable in the triple coincidence of this passage. First, the king has trouble sleeping. Then, he asks for the annals to be read to him. Finally, the passage that is read is the one about Mordecai saving the king from assassination. Perhaps this last one wasn’t a coincidence at all, but a conscious decision on the part of the king’s servants who knew that Mordecai had not received any reward. Be that as it may, God’s fingerprints are all over the servants’ decision.

There is a sense in which the whole outcome of the book of Esther hinges on these happy coincidences. It’s a wonderful reminder of what the Heidelberg Catechism means when it talks about the fact that “without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer #1). —Carol Bechtel

As you pray, thank God for his providence, and ask for his help in trusting his love and care in your life.

About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan where she has taught since 1994. Dr. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America. She served as President of the RCA’s General Synod and moderator of its General Synod Council. She also serves as the Executive Director of the American Waldensian Society. Her publications include a commentary on Esther for the Interpretation series, and several Bible study books and curricula.

She now lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom Mullens. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Her hobbies include singing, cooking, gardening, and the Celtic harp.

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