Day Two: Hegai, the Eunuch
In studying the character of Hegai, the Eunuch, I read one estimate that said that up to 500 boys were castrated each year in order to serve in the royal court. Whether or not that estimate is true is irrelevant, I suppose. What is important here is that Hegai was likely one of those boys. And a eunuch wasn't ever deemed all that important in Bible times. Except this one is, and he is important because God said so. Read Esther 2:8-18 again, paying extra attention to Hegai's parts of the story.
Under whose care was Esther placed (2:8)?
Where did this man work (2:8)?
What did he think of Esther when he met her (2:9)?
What four things did he do for Esther (2:9)?
Reflection: Based on her response to the items she could bring with her on her night with the king, how do you think Esther felt toward Hegai (2:15)?
What did all who met her think of Esther (2:15)?
What was the result of Esther's night with the king (2:17-18)?
Here's what amazes me about this part of the Esther story. Hegai was just doing his job. He was getting up every morning and taking care of the women in the harem belonging to the king. He was so good at his job that he moved up in position to the head eunuch. Was this the job he had always dreamed of? Probably not. But it's the one he had and he did it to the best of his ability.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a mom. I always wanted to be a wife. And that's exactly what I am. But I don't think I always do this dream job to the best of my ability. When Hegai worked hard and used his blessings to serve others well (keeping in mind he likely didn't know God at all as he was a Persian man working in the Persian Empire which was NOT a godly country), his life was as good as it could get in the moment. I don't mean to suggest that God will make my life better and easier if only I work harder. What I do mean to say is that if I give my all and devote my life's work to God, it will automatically be better because that is the lens through which I will view it. My attitude will affect my life.
I get the feeling that Hegai made the best of a not-so-great situation in that harem. He didn't choose to become a eunuch. He didn't choose to work in the palace. But that was exactly where he was when Esther came through. He didn't get to choose his circumstances, but he DID choose his responses and reactions to those circumstances.
In other words, whether you're living the dream right now or life has tossed one bad deal after another at you, you can shine for God right where you are. Remember that Esther didn't choose to be in that harem either. By going there, she was throwing out all chances of marrying a nice Jewish man and having babies and growing old with her sweet family. Instead, she had to know that she was likely going to end up in that harem surrounded by lots of other women who didn't choose to be there either. Her future wasn't very bright from an earthly perspective.
She chose a good attitude anyway. She chose to allow God to use her in that place, in that moment, with those people. Remember that verse 2:15 says, "she was admired by all who saw her" and 2:17 says, "the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women." That would have been impossible with a bad attitude.
Attitude changes appearances both physically and emotionally. What's cuter- a smiling baby or a crying baby? Which is sweeter to see- a preschooler holding mom's hand and walking nicely through the store or one face down on the floor screaming about the candy they can't get today? Who gets better help- the calm and smiling woman at the desk or the raging man throwing things at the cashier?
Attitudes have the power to change our experiences too. If my husband comes home in a bad mood, it changes the atmosphere of the entire house. If there is stress floating between us, it changes the day. If I go bowling with my family or play a board game with them but sigh and roll my eyes through the whole thing, are they really able to have as much fun?
The same is true for all of us. Our attitudes affect everything we do and I think both Hegai and Esther demonstrate that truth so well in these verses.
Personal Reflection: What is one area in your life where you can choose to change your attitude and instead approach that event or person with a positive attitude? Try it this week and see how things change for the better.