English Standard Version (ESV)
From the outside, it doesn't seem like much happens in this passage, does it? Esther goes before the King, asks him to come to dinner, and then, when they're having their post dinner wine, she asks him to come to another dinner. No big deal, right?
This is where context is huge, for when we understand what happens, we realize that Esther is one of the bravest people in Scripture. Esther risked her life on behalf of her people, and she didn't know what the outcome would be. See, you couldn't just go in to see the King. The King had to invite you. And if you showed up without an invitation, the King didn't have to accept your presence, in which case, you died. But Esther took the chance, because she was convinced she could save her people, and when the King extended the scepter to her, she must have breathed a huge sigh of relief. But her work was not yet complete. She had to have dinner with the King and with Haman, the man actively working to have every Jew in the Kingdom killed. Her bravery, to sit through the meal with him beside her, is incredible.
From the outside, not knowing the details, it doesn't seem like much. Know the context, however, and it changes radically.
Friends, people all around you are carrying heavy burdens, and for some of them, showing up to work or church is a monumental endeavor. If you truly understand their struggle, you'd have a deep appreciation for what a battle they are fighting. People around you are struggling with addiction or depression or domestic violence or abuse or some other monumental obstacle, and they often put on a brave face and don't reveal the depths of their struggle. Occasionally we are given a glimpse of their full context and the depth of their struggle is revealed, but often we never know, or we find out too late.
So let us tread gently around one another. We rarely grasp the fullness of each other's struggles. May we be vulnerable and honest about the battles we are fighting, and may we support and encourage each other. May our churches be a safe place, where grace and hope are offered, and may we understand that the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ is the only thing that gets us through each and every day.