The Covid-19 outbreak has had an impact on lots of us. For international students, it’s been tricky in entirely different ways. Here, Chichester CU student Sian explores how the book of Esther can be an encouragement to those far from home during this time.
The last few weeks have been challenging at best, and at worst scary and isolating.
As an international student, I’ve had to ask some pretty intense questions, such as, ‘When will I be with my family again?’. It quickly became clear that I’d be unable to go home to Canada and see them in person before Christmas, and, for a while, I struggled with that: I was confused, angry, upset, and I felt helpless.
Then, a week or so into lockdown, one of my best friends led a Bible study on Esther as part of our regular online CU meetings. (If you’re unfamiliar with the book of Esther in the Bible, it’s the story of a young Jewish woman who became Queen to the Emperor of the Persian Empire in a time when Jews weren’t exactly favoured).
Esther never asked to be Queen, in fact being so probably placed her in a precarious situation, but when she discovered a plot to destroy her people, she used her position to save them. Now I’m no Queen, nor do I face the same troubles as Esther did, but part of that Bible study began to resonate with me deeply:
‘And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14)
I realised that, despite struggling with lockdown, I am where God wants me to be – Esther’s example has already proven that. When Esther ended up in a situation that she didn’t understand or want to be in, it was because God had placed her there. In just the same way, our Sovereign God has placed me here and you where you are. For Esther, it was so she could save the Jewish people. For you and me... I don’t know.
What I do know is that if I wasn’t in England the seven-hour time difference would make my studies and involvement with my Christian Union nigh on impossible.
Because I’m here, I’m able to engage with God within a community of my peers who are all experiencing the same hardships. I’m able to meet with the CU committee and dream up new ways to reach out to our friends and peers. Because I’m here I’m able to keep in contact with my church, work at Tesco, drop flowers off for a friend, and simply connect with my University and our CU in a time when we need each other the most. So even though your biological family may be thousands of miles away across a vast ocean, take comfort in knowing that because you’re here, God is using you to do His will in ways that count.
We are where God wants us, now.
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