In the Old Testament we read about Esther and Mordecai, who worked for King Ahasuerus. Mordecai took in Esther as his own daughter after her parents passed away. He brought her to the palace. Esther pleased the king, and he made her his queen (see Esther 2:17).
Meanwhile, Haman, a leader in the king’s court, became angry with Mordecai because he would not pay obeisance to Haman. Therefore, Haman plotted to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews.
Realizing the grave danger which loomed over his people, Mordecai pled with Esther to seek help from the king: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Consider Esther’s dilemma: It was against the law to approach the king without being summoned. Such an act was punishable by death. If she were to remain quiet, she would likely enjoy a life of luxury and ease. She could live the life of a queen or risk her life to save her family and her people. She counted the cost and chose to heed the longings of her people and of her heart.
She asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews in Shushan and fast three days for her, and she and her handmaids would do the same. Then she said, “I [will] go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Spiritually prepared, Esther approached the king. She was received by him, and she invited the king and Haman to a feast she had arranged. During the feast, Haman’s plot was unveiled, and Mordecai received great honors. Esther, born for such a time, had saved a nation. — Mary Ellen Smoot, General Relief Society President, “For Such a Time as This,” Ensign, November 1997, p. 86
It is a simple question asked tonight with the pleading of four hundred voices, yet repeated silently by each of us who also in prayerful supplication say, “What wouldst thou have me do?”
The scriptures reveal one woman’s response to the very same question. The woman: Queen Esther. Her questioning moment was a hard and very lonely one when her uncle, Mordecai, sent her word that she should go into the king and plead for him to spare her people from the planned destruction. Esther, though queen, had no right to go to the king unless he called for her. The king had absolute power. She had no right of appeal. But she really was the only one with possible entrance to the throne of his power. Her uncle reminded her, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Esther had the strength born of good teaching. It enabled her to determine to ask all of the Jews of the kingdom to fast and pray with her. It was then she made personal preparation by looking her most beautiful, as she went in to see the king.
With every step she must have wondered, “Will he hold out the royal sceptre?” “Will he condemn me to death?” “Will he drop me into poverty and oblivion?” She stood before him, young, beautiful, calm-knowing that she was totally vulnerable. She also knew that she had appealed to God for help and that there was a great moral wrong about to be committed. She had to be responsible to God who made her, no matter what the mortal consequences.
Each woman in today’s world has responsibilities akin to those which Esther faced. The circumstances of each life are significantly different, yet each woman faces the challenge of being true to the principles of the gospel if she would improve the quality of her mortal life and make herself worthy of the opportunity of eternal progression. — Barbara B. Smith, General Relief Society President, “Women for the Latter Day,” Ensign, November 1979, pp. 107-8