A famous phrase from the Book of Esther reminds us of two factors that must come together in the unfolding of history: The right person must show up at the right time.
"… Thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this."
No matter that the "thou" in this statement — the right person — was an obscure orphan girl whose background was that of a despised people. Nor did it foil the story that she was raised by an unlikely step-father — her uncle Mordecai — who himself just happened to be hated in a special way by political celebrities.
When we read the account, we may even see that these "disadvantages" helped things unfold as they should.
What made her precisely the right person was more than her physical beauty. That she was pleasant to look upon made it all the more likely that certain people would take a second look, and then notice her deeper qualities. Native innocence, combined with remarkable grace, attracted not only the eye but the heart. Even when compared to the most perfectly formed candidates in all of Persia at that hour, Esther was the obvious choice.
What made this moment the right time — so that if she had "come to the kingdom" a little earlier or a little later, she could not have been the right person after all — was that the Jews were in danger of becoming extinct.
Esther's people are not the only group to have dramatically benefited mankind. But it is impossible to imagine history's crucial events without them. Where would mankind be — people of any background whatsoever — without the fathers of Jewish blood, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Or without the ancient prophets — not only those of Judah, but fellow Israelites, also called Jews, who stayed faithful during critical times? Or without the Bible itself? The Jewish "people of the book," as they are called, became authors and preservers of that book — and of mankind's story many times over.
Yet another obscure Jewish girl gave birth to the Jewish baby who grew up, was lifted up, raised up and ascended up to fulfill all the symbolisms and prophecies, all the hopes and needs ever held forth by that book or any book of scripture. The advent of Mary and the advent of her majestic son … these and the advent of infinite consequences more, were all at risk when suddenly, at the right time, Esther stepped up and spoke up, at the peril of her life.
Of course, the Destroyer has sought desperately to erase from God's calendar other marked peoples and marked persons. Others have needed, and will need, their "Esthers."
Those Esthers will step up and fill their missions. Then what? Each Esther will have other missions thereafter. The whisper will come again and yet again, "Thou art come for such a time as this."
Chapters close. Others begin. Few chapters make it into the public record. But they are all known.
God doesn't raise people up for a one-time purpose in life. He has no disposable servants. He doesn't use someone a while and then put them away on a back room shelf. That isn't the way of the great Father.
The returning missionary, or the home teacher moving on, or the hero who has just preserved a whole race, or any other "Esther" among us, will be the right person again.
Fortunately, this is true of the greatest Right Person of all. Part of his work is "finished." Yet, he ministers to us still.
(References: Esther 4:14; 2 Nephi 29:6; John 19:30)
Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites.