God is sovereign and in control of all circumstances AND we have free will to choose our own actions. Mordecai’s urging to Queen Esther is one of the clearest pictures of this that I’ve read.
For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
I have a new appreciation for the position of Job in the Bible. I’d previously wondered why Job, which supposedly is one of the earliest stories, was placed after Esther. After reading the history of the Israelites and the repeating pattern of God richly blessing those who put their trust in Him (David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Mordecai and Esther) and rejecting those who relied on their own power (Saul, Jeroboam, Ahab, Amon, Haman) the overall impression is that your life will go well if you trust and obey God. Then you read Job and you remember that life is not that simple.
It’s easy to look down on other people and judge their actions, especially when they are in a bad situation (homeless, poor, divorced, bankrupt). Job reminds us that our perspective is always lacking and rather than judging we should offer comfort and compassion and love.