By Chris Altrock
Esther’s World Is Much Like Ours: God Seems Missing.
Some of Esther’s peers, like Daniel, lived with a distinct advantage: they experienced the mighty, miracle-making wonder of God. Esther, on the other hand, was surrounded by extravagant wealth and impiety in the disenchanted empire of Persia. Faith wasn’t easy in a place like this, but thankfully, Esther learned there was more to God than what she could see.
Join Chris in an extended exploration of one of the Bible’s most neglected stories and discover the core spiritual practices and habits of Esther’s life. Each chapter takes up one of these practices (examen, waiting, engaging, humility, radical prayer, valuing others, empathy, generosity, mercy, purpose, celebration, and service). Learn to take an active stance and look for God in places you have never imagined.
Chris Altrock serves as the senior preaching minister for the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. The author of six other books, including Ten-Minute Transformation: Small Spiritual Steps that Revolutionize Your Life, Chris is a trained spiritual director, and he teaches as an adjunct professor. He and his wife, Kendra, have two children. Connect with him at www.chrisaltrock.com.
Readers often have nebulous childhood memories of the story of Esther as the beautiful teenage girl who is chosen to be the queen of Persia and gets to save the Jewish people. Altrock rescues the story of Esther from its fairytale status. He takes it off the children’s shelf and places it squarely in the adult section. Along the way, Altrock eloquently and convincingly unpacks the core theological theme of Esther: God is always at work in the world, bringing about his good purposes in ancient Persia and in ordinary lives today. — Holly Allen, Professor of Family Studies and Christian Ministries, Lipscomb University, and author of InterGenerate: Transforming Churches through Intergenerational Ministry
We live in an age when God is summarily dismissed, banished from the public arena. The crosscurrents of this secular age have pushed against those who have faith in Christ, leaving them confused, weary, and sometimes despairing. Behind Esther is a bold response in the opposite direction—to see God everywhere and in everything. Altrock’s prescription for re-enchanting your life will leave you energized and filled with hope. — Bill Delvaux, Director of Landmark Journey Ministries and author of Heroic: The Surprising Path to True Manhood
Despite the position evil has on the center stage of history, the righteous God of Esther writes and directs the human tragedy. Though unseen in the depressing play of godless injustice, Esther’s invisible God still determines when the curtain falls upon the grand finale of agony. Behind Esther provides realistic hope and longed for inspiration that enlivens our endurance against the masked characters of prejudice, politics, and pride. — Jerry Taylor, Associate Professor of Bible and Ministry, Abilene Christian University
The Torah is filled with incredible stories that speak to the deep mysteries of the human heart. Altrock’s careful reading of the Esther narrative will enrich your life as you think about what it means to be human in our time and place. Faith is not for the faint of the heart. It is tested, forged by the fire of suffering and waiting on God. In that spirit, Behind Esther shows us how Esther can serve as our spiritual guide. — Josh Graves, lead minister, Otter Creek Church, Nashville, TN
What a fresh and creative reading of the Esther story! In our time—somewhat like Esther’s time—God is more hidden. In Behind Esther, Altrock highlights twelve spiritual disciplines Esther practiced to engage with God in the ancient Persian culture, disciplines he recommends for us in our time as well. Engaging and beautifully done! — Leonard Allen, Dean of the College of Bible and Ministry, Lipscomb University, and author of Poured Out: The Spirit of God Empowering the Mission of God
All of us long to be more than ordinary. Altrock’s fresh and insightful investigation into the life of an ill-equipped, ordinary woman shows us how powerful ordinary can be. The same God who transformed the Jewish orphan Esther into a world-changing queen is willing and able to transform us. — Lynne Gentry, author of The Carthage Chronicles
Who would have thought that tucked away in the little book of Esther was such a timely word for the post-Christian, Western world that many of us are living in today? Every chapter of Behind Esther is filled with fresh insights that bring this action-packed Bible story into conversation with our twenty-first century lives. Altrock does a phenomenal job of revealing through Esther how God is always working, even when we can’t sense it—or maybe, especially when we can’t sense it. — Jonathan Storment, preaching minister, Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, Little Rock, AR