When I was a little girl, I loved to read stories out of the Bible. I know that sounds funny, but I did. I progressed beyond my Bible story book and would read things out of my little New King James that my parents gave me when I was four. Among my favorite stories to read was the story of Esther (found just before Job).
I loved the story of the brave girl who was brought before the King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) and was chosen to be the queen. Her cousin Mordecai told her of a plot by the king's right hand man to kill all the Jews, which would include Mordecai and even Esther herself. Esther gathered all her courage and went before the king to tell him about the plot. The story ends up with a happy ending for the Jewish people (celebrated in the springtime holiday of Purim), but the end is unhappy for Haman (the right-hand man) and his compatriots because they are all killed in a very shocking ending to the story.
I was thinking of a verse from Esther today. When Mordecai tells her of the plot to kill the Jews, she reminds him of the danger in going before the king. Mordecai tells her, "Don't think that just because you live in the king's house that you're the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else, but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for such a time as this."
I do not believe that everything that happens is in God's plan for us. I believe sometimes our choices and the choices of other people influence our lives in ways we did not and could not expect. Yet I do believe God is with us in triumphs and in perils and has given us many gifts to use in varieties of situations.
Esther was kidnapped from her family and put into a harem to be perused by the king. She was chosen to be queen, which probably put her in a place where it was dangerous to acknowledge her faith practices (dietary regulations, prayers, etc). However, in a time of dire need, she was able to use her courage, her gift of rhetoric and her beauty to save her people.
Sometimes in the face of adversity, tragedy or even celebration, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to help. We have to work to trust God to guide us. When we think of our time and talents as God-given, it makes it hard not to use them toward the needs of the world in such a time as this.