Reflection: * As we continue this new devotional series, a word of warning for newcomers: much of Esther deals with R-rated themes. Some readers may find these devotions confronting.
This is not a reverse fairy-tale in which girls vie to marry the handsome prince (rather than dashing young men competing for the princess’s hand). This is for real—and it’s terrifying! The girls, ten to fifteen years old, do not come willingly; they are taken. This is human trafficking for sex slavery on an industrial scale. In the second century, Aelius Aristides characterised Persian rule this way: “a child’s beauty was a terror to its parents, a wife’s beauty a terror to her husband.”
Imagine you are parent to a beautiful daughter How do you feel about her beauty? How do you feel when she is taken? What will you do?
Engaging our world: The world is still a dangerous place for many children, particularly during armed conflict, most particularly when rulers and their retainers monopolise power. I’ve met parents who hid their children, withdrew them from school, or married them off for fear they’d be taken. I’ve met girls whose fathers were killed, or mothers assaulted because they hid a daughter and would not give her up.
How might we encourage our own and other countries to build safer more equitable societies?
Prayer: Loving God, we remember stolen children and stolen childhoods: Aboriginal children taken from their families, countless children taken to work as servants or in factories, plantations or brothels. We pray for a world that is safe for all children: a world without war, a world in which power is shared and not abused, a world in which streets resound with the laughter of children playing unafraid. Amen.