the Hebrew name for Esther. a story that inspires and challenges. and when written in a new form (namely, historical fiction), brings an ancient story to life with all its heartaches and joys.
i'm nearly finished with just such a book. its title is Hadassah, written by Tommy Tenney. i've found myself near tears on many occasions, realizing more than ever before what it must have felt like to be taken away from home and family, and a "normal" future, into the life of a queen who never sees the husband who she loves. everything is taken away, yet everything is offered. i've enjoyed this book more than most i've read; i would highly reccommend it.
i think what's impacted me most (as far as feeling Esther's loss, and that of her family) was Jesse... the annoying grandson of Esther's housekeeper who always seemed to be around. upon reaching "that age", she realized she loved him. only for him to be taken to the palace and forced to become a eunuch, and her taken as a candidate for queen. she had no assurance of any future; only that she would have at least one night with the king, and hopefully he would see in her what he wanted in a future queen.
a lost love, no hope of ever being together. they are still able to be friends once inside the castle, seeing as Jesse now poses no "threat". she confides in him of her growing desire for the king, which she doesn't fully understand. Jesse gets upset, and what he says broke my heart, and has stayed with me:
"how do you think i feel, hearing you talk about feeling desire for this man? knowing your innocence is about to be taken by the same man who stole my life, stole my chance at every enjoying something i had dreamed of one day sharing with you?"
i'm not sure why it's impacted me so much. maybe it's imagining the pain he went through in the whole situation (and who knows if someone like this really existed in Esther's past?). maybe it's thinking of some of my own lost dreams, or those of friends, or family. or maybe it's something deeper...
an assurance that, no matter what happens, God has our best in mind. He allows everything for a reason. was this the only way to save His people from destruction? because of her position as queen, Esther was able to save the Jews from being annhilated. even though it meant great loss and heartache, a greater purpose was at work. it seems to make the loss worth it in the end... when looking at a greater reality.
yet still, my heart breaks for those who have lost so much. even though Jesse is a fictional character, and we have no specifics on what Esther gave up, it still symbolizes much to me. summed up in two simple words:
loss, and redemption.