Esther is an amazing story of courage and cleverness to stand up for and save a people who lacked the power or voice to save themselves. Esther, an orphaned, Jewish exile seems to be the stuff that Disney movies are made of. From the surface, it's a rags-to-riches story of the outsider made queen who thwarts an evil plot to save her people. Yet that is only part of the story.
While it is true that Esther wins an empire-wide beauty contest to become queen, she is by no means a true partner to the king. Xerxes, the king, still has other wives. He is also known for his massive harem, a historical detail that the Greeks used to poke fun at the lascivious Persians. In fact, the reason that there was an opening for the position of queen in the first place is that the previous queen, Vashti, refused to "show off her beauty" to the inebriated king and his advisers.
Esther's precarious position lacked true power. Esther knew this, and said as much when her kinsmen, Mordecai, sought her help in protecting the Jews. The king had not called to see her for 30 days. He had plenty of others to occupy his chambers. Further, to show up unannounced before the king could mean death if the capricious king so deemed it.
Esther is afraid, and it would be foolish not to be. She asks others to fast and pray for her. Afterward, she faces her fears when she faces the king. When he responds favorably, she shows her wit by building anticipation until the Jews are saved and those threatening them are defeated.
Being courageous is not the same as being fearless. Courage is moving forward in faith in the face of our fears.