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Finding God When God is Not There

Happy Purim!  This Jewish (biblical) holiday emerges from the OT book of Esther, and commences at sunset, the 25th of February. The megillah (scroll) of Esther is unique in so many ways, but have you ever noticed the uncanny parallels between the book of Esther and the book of Daniel?  They each tell the story of a young Jewish person rising to distinction in the imperial court of an empire in which the Jews are just one among many people groups.


  • Esther, who becomes queen of the Persian Empire, uses her power to arm the Jewish people for action against their foes.

  • Daniel, who becomes a counsellor to the king of Babylon, also triumphs over his enemies


The similarities don’t end there!  In both narratives:


  • the Jews are an identifiable, vulnerable minority who are hated by some who have political power

  • the Jewish hero is exalted by a tyrannical king because of some intrinsic quality

  • the hero’s survival depends on their willingness to take risks that could cost them their lives

  • the Jewish hero must win favour from the king, or die


Esther and Daniel track perfectly, except for one remarkable contrast: In the book of Daniel, God is on every page; the players in the narrative are constantly speaking of Him or to Him.  But in the scroll of Esther, God is absent.  It is an amazing chronicle of Jewish history in the 5th century.  But the $64,000 question is:  WHERE IS GOD?  Or for that matter, where is even the slightest reference to “spirituality” or “devotion” or “worship?”


Never in the narrative – even in their most threatening moments – does Mordechai or Esther appeal to the Almighty for help!


  • David writes, “I called on the Lord in my distress” (Psalm 118)

  • Daniel, in the midst of his trials, called upon the Lord three times a day

  • In all of Job’s trials he falls to the ground and worships, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”


But every page, every paragraph of Esther’s narrative is eerily quiet…God is not even mentioned as a possible solution to life’s trials.


Where is He?  Where is God? 


Let’s face it; it is the habit of men and women to ask this very question!  In Isaiah 49, Zion is so convinced of the absence of God that she says, “the Lord has forsaken me and my Lord has forgotten me.”  Job searches for his absent God in chapter 23, saying, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him… Look, I go forward but He is not there, and backward but I cannot perceive Him…”


It may be significant that we, the worshippers of The Almighty, are the only people who look to an invisible God for refuge and salvation!  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever, Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).


Where is He?  Where is God? – You’ve cried those words, haven’t you?


  • Where is He in the 6 o’clock news?

  • Where is He in the endless Middle East conflict?

  • Where is He in the random horrors that befall good people?

  • Where is He in my trial upon trial, in my private sorrow and suffering?


Here are three brief lessons from the book of Esther about finding God when God is not there:


We find Him in our circumstances. – When Mordechai famously asked Queen Esther, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” he was reminding her that those who have eyes to see will find God in our circumstances.


We find Him in our trials. – I doubt that any identifiable people group is more familiar with the trial of genocide than the Jewish people. Hell has declared war on Israel for four millennia. And yet, am Yisrael chai – the people of Israel live. Written on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany during the Holocaust are these words from a Jewish captive:



I believe in the sun even when it is not shining

I believe in love even when I cannot feel it

I Believe in God even when He is silent



We find Him in His profound absence – As Esther reminds us, those who have experienced God do not need to see Him to know he is there. Flying home on a long flight, I sat next to a woman in love.  She told me everything about her fiancée: His likes, dislikes, hobbies, quirks, EVERYTHING, including the way his left eyebrow curves up when he smiles (so adorable!).  The word “love” was never mentioned, but only one who is blind to the unmistakable signs of love could say that love was not overflowing from her narrative.



“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.

Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice

with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8,9)



Written by Scott Brown


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