The book of Esther does not mention the name of God at all and yet is one of the most important Old Testament books for teaching us about the providence and protection of God, forming the basis of the Jewish festival Purim, when the Jews’ rescue from annihilation at the hand of Haman is celebrated to this day. Often, such miracles are thought of as a series of coincidences or are ascribed to serendipity, which means ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.’ In truth, chance or fate or luck or serendipity have nothing to do with the miracles recounted in this book; rather, we see God’s hand in the mundane events recounted which amount to one of the greatest miracles we find in the Bible.

There are four main characters in this story: the king (Xerxes), his wife (Esther), her cousin (Mordecai) and the villain (Haman). We might expect the king to be the main character, but in fact, the God of the exiled Jews proves Himself to be greater than any human king (see also Ps 2:4-6).

Mordecai proves himself to be God’s man for the hour who encourages Esther to take a stand when Haman threatens the very existence of God’s people. His actions seem very ordinary, but they remind Esther that she has a divine duty to intervene, even if this means risking her own life. Esther, understanding that prayer and fasting underpin all our human activity, reveals the plot to the king, whose ‘chance’ wakefulness in the night coincides with his reading the royal records showing how Mordecai has intervened to save his life before. Before we know it, the crisis is past; Haman is hoist on his own petard and Mordecai and the Jewish people are saved.

This story reminds us that God works miracles on our behalf, but these come often in ordinary ways that we can easily overlook because they seem so mundane. God may not be mentioned by name, but His presence and His actions permeate the whole book; this is a story of providence and protection and miraculous help. God is always at work in our individual stories; we have a mighty God who is worth celebrating and praising each day because of His marvellous deeds on our behalf.