Waiting for True Love – Ruth 3

Do you love a good love story?  I enjoy reading about plants, landscaping, history, my sports teams and theology but there’s something about love that touches something deep inside of me.

Ruth is love story.  Ruth was single and financially destitute, but she was faithful, determined and trusted God.  While she waited for her situation to change she kept her hope alive.

Ruth’s story begins with death but ends with marriage and a baby.  Yes it’s a romantic story but, behind the scenes is the faithful love of God who romances every hopeful heart.

In review: Chapter 1 opened with tragic circumstances. Naomi and her husband ran off to Moab to find food during a famine. They fell for the “Grass is Greener Myth.” The head of the family Elimilech and both his sons died in Moab.  The boys left behind two young widows: Orpha stayed in Moab, and Ruth returned with Naomi to her land, people and to God.

Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem as poor beggars. But then, in chapter 2, suddenly, there arose the possibility of resolution in their circumstances. Ruth went out to glean in the barley fields and there met God’s good and righteous man, Boaz.  Boaz showers encouragement, opportunities, food, shelter, fellowship and blessings upon Ruth.

Chapter 3 begins the love story which is a key component of this book. The love that begins between Ruth and Boaz reminds us of what the book is about. Ruth is a story of redemption. Redemption has to do with being rescued or delivered.

Ever since Boaz came into Ruth’s life, Naomi has been a different person. Her concern is no longer for herself and her grief but for Ruth and her future. It’s when we serve others that we ourselves receive the greatest joy and satisfaction.

When the two widows came to Bethlehem, their plan was that Ruth take care of Naomi and both of them eke out an existence the best they could. But now Naomi has a new plan: Ruth is to marry Boaz, and then all of them can live happily ever after. Naomi could tell from Ruth’s report that Boaz would be in favor of the plan, so she began to set things in motion. In that day, it was the parents who arranged marriages; so Naomi was not out of place in what she did.

Keep in mind that the Book of Ruth is much more than the record of the marriage of a rejected alien to a respected Jew. It’s also the picture of Christ’s relationship to those who trust Him and belong to Him. In the steps that Ruth takes, recorded in this chapter, we see the steps God’s people must take if they want to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Like Ruth, we must not be satisfied merely with living on leftovers (2:2), or even receiving gifts (2:14-16). We must want Him alone; for when we have Him, we also have all that He owns. It’s not the gifts that we seek, but the Giver.

Here’s what to do when waiting for true love,

Listen to Wise Counsel.   Ruth 3:1-5 Naomi had some instructions for Ruth to help her succeed and Ruth willingly listened.  God has placed wise people in our lives to give us instructions and wise counsel.  Will we listen to them or do we think we have all the answers?  If we think we can do everything ourselves and not listen to our parents, mentors, and godly people we will run into trouble.  God’s word gives us wise counsel. the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’  2 Timothy 3:13-16

By the way, there was nothing immoral about this procedure that Naomi set for it was the only way Ruth could offer herself to Boaz in marriage in a way that was culturally right and that followed the customs and biblical laws that they lived by.  She had to put herself at the feet of the lord of the harvest, and he would do the rest.

Suppose that on her way to the threshing floor, Ruth decided to take a different approach. Why lie at the feet of the man you want to marry? Why uncover his feet and then ask him to put a corner of his mantle over you? Certainly there ought to be a better way! Had she used another approach, Boaz would have been confused; and the entire enterprise would have failed.

The Old Testament priests knew how to approach God because He gave them their instructions in the law. New Testament Christians know how to approach God because in the Word He has told us what is required.  Ruth followed these instructions and everything worked out perfectly.

Secondly we need to…

Put Ourselves at the Feet of Jesus.   Four times in this chapter there is mention of feet (3:4, 7-8, 14). Ruth had fallen at the feet of Boaz in response to his gracious words (2:10), but now she was coming to his feet to propose marriage. She was asking him to obey the law of the kinsman redeemer and take her as his wife.

What is a kinsman redeemer? A kinsman or family redeemer was a relative who volunteered to take responsibility for the extended family. When a woman’s husband died, the law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) provided that she could marry a brother of her dead husband. But Naomi had no more sons. In such a case, the nearest relative to the deceased husband could become a family redeemer and marry the widow. The nearest relative did not have to marry the widow. If he chose not to, the next nearest relative could take his place. If no one chose to help the widow, she would probably live in poverty the rest of her life, because in Israelite culture the inheritance was passed on to the son or nearest male relative, not to the wife.

We have a family redeemer in Jesus Christ, who though he was God, came to earth as a man in order to save us. By his death on the cross, he has redeemed us from sin and hopelessness and thereby purchased us to be his own possession I Peter 1:18-19. This guarantees our eternal inheritance.

Ruth understood:  This man Boaz is my kinsman-redeemer. I have a right to claim him. In fact, I must claim him as my kinsman-redeemer. I will go tonight and let him know.

Like Ruth, I believe we need see our need for redemption and go to Christ. We need to see our need for something better in our lives and go to Christ.  What needs redemption in your life?  Is it only your soul or could it be your health, finances or relationships?  For change, for true love, for redemption we need to put our all our lives at the feet of our redeemer.

In the responses of Boaz to Ruth, we see how the Lord responds to us when we come to Him. Just as Boaz spoke to Ruth, so Christ speaks to us from His Word.

He accepts us (Ruth 3:8-10). Boaz might have refused to have anything to do with Ruth; but in his love for her, he accepted her. He even called her “my daughter” and pronounced a blessing on her.  Jesus accepts us just like this!

He assures us (Ruth 3:11-13). In the midnight darkness, Ruth couldn’t see the face of Boaz, but she could hear his voice; and that voice spoke loving assurance to her: “Fear not!” Our assurance is not in our feelings or our circumstances but in His Word.

Lasting, in waiting for true love we must

Wait for Christ to Work on our Behalf. Ruth 3:18

Since Naomi and Ruth believed that Boaz would accomplish what he said he would do, they waited patiently until they received the good news that Ruth would be a bride.

I confess that waiting is one of the most difficult things for me to do, whether it’s waiting in a line at the grocery store or waiting for God to answer a prayer. I like to see progress and I like to see things happening. Perhaps that’s why the Lord has often arranged for me to wait.

Boaz was busy working for Ruth, and Naomi was confident that he wouldn’t rest until he had settled the matter. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 1:6  It encourages my heart to know that Jesus Christ is working unceasingly in and for His people.

I have put myself at the feet of Jesus my redeemer and I will trust Him to work on my behalf, will you?

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

 

Sources: Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 401.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – History, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 191.

 

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Family Matters – Ruth 2

Have you ever felt closer to an extended family member more so than anyone from your nuclear family?  Do you have friends at church; spiritual family members that are more committed to you than your physical family?  God brings amazing people into our lives to build us, encourage us and support us that may not be related to us by blood.   Even though we may share genetic bonds with certain people, God often allows some relational bonds and spiritual bonds to be stronger.  This was the bond of Ruth and Naomi.   Would you like to have stronger family bonds?  Do you want to feel closer to the people in your life and closer to God?  We learn how to have strong family and spiritual bonds from Ruth and Naomi.

When someone says, “Let me tell you about my mother-in-law,” we often expect a criticism or humorous story because the mother-in-law caricature has been a standard centerpiece of ridicule or comedy. The book of Ruth, however, tells a different story. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, Naomi. Recently widowed, Ruth begged to stay with Naomi wherever she went, even though it would mean leaving her blood family and her homeland. In heartfelt words, Ruth said, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (1:16). Naomi agreed, and Ruth traveled with her to Bethlehem.  Ruth was fully committed to Naomi, Naomi’s people(God’s people) and Naomi’s God.

The first conviction I see in Ruth that moved her words into action is that;

Family is worth working for.  Family is worth our time, effort, blood, sweat and tears.

How many sleepless nights, diapers changed, loads of laundry, doctors’ appointments, meals cooked have there been for those we love?  It’s not worth counting, because we do those things for people we love.

Ruth 2: 2-3 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.”

Ruth puts words into action and takes initiative to support her mother in law in spite of the fact that she is a foreigner.  Ruth had great determination to work and improve her condition and not just stay in bed with self-pity.   For a poor widow like Ruth working in the field in the heat of the sun and picking up the leftover grains behind the workers to support herself and her mother-in-law gives us insight of the people of Israel at that time.   From the law (Lev. 19:9-10 & Deut. 24-19-22) farmers in Israel were instructed to cut corners in harvesting and always leave some behind so that the poor and the needy can come and glean for themselves.

This was the social assistance program in Israel so that the poor can provide for their needs as they work with dignity.   This shows us that hard work is important rather than merely relying on government welfare.    God rewards diligence and industry.

The godly character traits of service, loyalty and hard work that Ruth had were significant in God lifting her up and blessing her life.  These are the same qualities that God is looking at our hearts as we serve Him and the families He has given us.   As we serve our families, we are serving God.  God takes notice which leads us to our next truth about family,

Family support is rewarded by God. 

Ruth showed great commitment and willingness to serve Naomi.  In turn we will see that Boaz showed great commitment kindness to Ruth, a foreigner, a despised Moabite woman with no money.

When we show commitment and support to our families, both our earthly and spiritual families, God brings great blessings and rewards into our lives.   Like Ruth, God changes our circumstances as we trust Him.

Our identity of ourselves changes as God blesses us.   Ruth was first called a Moabitess, a foreigner but now notice how she was addressed in Ruth 2:8,  “So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me….” Boaz didn’t receive her as a foreigner, but as family.  He called her “my daughter,” not a Moabitess. The law rejected her, but Boaz received her.

Is this not the story of us all as believers?  We were outsiders, condemned and without hope, but by God’s amazing grace, we have been accepted and brought into His family by Christ.

When Ruth set out that morning to glean in the fields, she was looking for someone who would show her grace or favor: (v. 2, and see v. 10 and 13). Grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it. As a woman, a poor widow, and an alien, Ruth could have no claims on anyone. She was at the lowest rung of the social ladder.

The channel of that grace was Boaz.  Commentators have pointed out in Boaz a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ in His relationship to His bride, the church. Like Ruth, the lost sinner is outside the covenant family of God, bankrupt, with no claim on God’s mercy. But God took the initiative and provided a way for us to enter His family through faith in Jesus Christ.   We will look at this relationship more in the next two chapters.

Notice the grace or favor that Ruth receives from Boaz is just like the grace we receive in Jesus Christ.

  • Direction In Our Life

Notice in verses 8-9, that Boaz said to Ruth, “Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. .” She receives words of guidance and direction from Boaz.  Like Boaz, Jesus brings into our life the blessing of guidance and direction.  Jesus says that “He is the Good Shepherd.  He leads us, He speaks to us and we follow Him for abundant life.”

  • Protection For Our Life

 Notice verse 9, “I have told the men not to lay a hand on you.” Boaz was concerned that others might take advantage of Ruth. From what we know of Ruth, she was a very attractive woman. But Boaz made sure that she would be safe. Jesus is also watching over our lives, in John 10 Jesus shares that when the wolf or the enemy comes, Jesus protects the flock even laying down his life.

  • Satisfaction To Our Life

Notice again in verse 9, “And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars.”   Under God’s welfare program she could glean in the field, but that was about it. Yet, Boaz told her that she could drink of the water that was provided for his workers when she was thirsty. The grace of God through Jesus Christ will bring satisfaction to our life.  Jesus says that he has come that we might not just have life, but a full, abundant and satisfying life!

In Christ we find direction in life, protection for life, and satisfaction in life just as Ruth experienced from Boaz.

Our Family Relationships Teach Us about God

Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem as poor widows, but they would soon become prosperous through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. Yet the greatest blessing was not the money, the marriage, or the child; it was the work of God in their lives.  These relationships of family that they experienced foreshadowed the relationships that we find in God.

We tend to think of blessings in terms of prosperity rather than the high-quality relationships God makes possible for us. No matter what our economic situation, we can love and respect the people God has brought into our lives. In so doing, we give and receive blessings.  Love is the greatest blessing, grace is the greatest blessing, and relationships are the greatest blessings.   God uses our family relationships to teach us about the relationships we have in Him. God is our Father; our fellow believers in Christ are our brothers and sisters.  Christ is our redeemer, we are his bride.

Thank you Lord for showing us that family matters.  We are thankful for our families that you have given us; both earthly and spiritual.  You use them teach us, bless and show us more about you.

Darrell

 

Sources:  Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 396.
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.

 

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Moving On After Loss – Part 2

Have you have ever played the game Jenga? “You take a block from the bottom and you put it on top.” Each of these blocks could represent a day in your life.  Each day you try to live the best you can. Each day you try to get by.  But then there comes a day when life falls apart.

Ruth 1 tells the story of two women whose lives fell apart.  Let’s look at Ruth for a moment.

Her life seems to hold a bright future. She marries a husband with strong family ties. They begin building a life together. But in a few short years her family is demolished by death. Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law all three die. Ruth and two women she has no blood relation with have to start over.

I don’t think it does the Bible any injustice to read between the lines. We who have been through suffering and the death of those close to us know how Ruth felt.

Psychologists have noticed five stages grieving people go through: denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. We don’t know where Ruth was in this process when her mother-in-law announced she was returning to Bethlehem in Judah. But I imagine she hadn’t had enough time yet to feel like she was ready for new beginning.

To Move on from Loss, we see a second principle in this story.

In Loss Cling to Family, They Help Support Us.

In the last post we left off with verse 6 where Naomi gets word that “the Lord has visited his people and given them food.” So she decides to return to Judah. Her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, go with her part way it seems, but then in verses 8–13 she tries to persuade them to go back home. When she needs them the most she is trying to get rid of them.   Haven’t we all done that?  When we need people most we push them away.  We prefer to be alone or suffer in silence.  Thankfully Naomi’s daughter-in-laws cry with her and hug her and kiss her.  This is how we should grieve.  We need to shed tears and cling to each other.  I think there are a couple of reasons why the writer devotes so much space to Naomi’s effort to turn Ruth and Orpah back.

Naomi’s Misery

First, the scene emphasizes Naomi’s misery. For example, verse 11: “Naomi said, ‘Turn back my daughters, why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband.'” In other words, Naomi has nothing to offer them. Her condition is worse than theirs. If they try to be faithful to her and to the name of their husbands, they will find nothing but pain. So she concludes at the end of verse 13, “No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.” Don’t come with me because God is against me. Your life may be as bitter as mine.

When we have decided that God is against us, we usually exaggerate our hopelessness. We become so bitter we can’t see the rays of light peeping out around the clouds. It was God who broke the famine and opened the way home (1:6). It was God who preserved a kinsman to continue Naomi’s line (2:20). And it was God who moves Ruth to stay with Naomi. But Naomi is in grief and can’t see God’s work in her life at this point.

Ruth’s Faithfulness

Another reason for verses 8–13 is to make Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi appear amazing. Verse 14 says that Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye but Ruth clung to her. Not even another entreaty in verse 15 can get Ruth to leave. This is all the more amazing after Naomi’s grim description of their future with her. Ruth stays with her in spite of an apparently hopeless future of widowhood and childlessness. Naomi painted the future black and Ruth took her hand and walked into it with her!  What faithfulness!

It’s amazing how God brings people into our lives that become closer to us than our own blood family! Do you have friend or extended family member that is closer than your own blood?   I see this in the church all the time.  God brings people together that need family.  I see people that have family miles and miles away or family that is gone find new and closer family in God’s house.  This is what God does; he brings us family to cling to in times of loss.  Will you cling to them or like Naomi will you try to go it through life alone?

The amazing words of Ruth are found in 1:16–17,

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,if even death separates you and me.”

 The more I ponder these words the more amazing they become. Ruth’s commitment to her destitute mother-in-law is simply astonishing. First, it means leaving her own family and land. Second, it means, as far as she knows, a life of widowhood and childlessness, because Naomi has no man to give, and if she married a non-relative, her commitment to Naomi’s family would be lost. Third, it means going to an unknown land with a new people and new customs and new language. Fourth, it was a commitment even more radical than marriage: “Where you die I will die and there be buried” (v. 17). In other words, she will never return home, not even if Naomi dies.

But the most amazing commitment of all is this: “Your God will be my God” (v. 16). Naomi has just said in verse 13, “The hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.” Naomi’s experience of God was bitterness. But in spite of this, Ruth forsakes her religious heritage in Moab and makes the God of Israel her God. Perhaps she had made that commitment years before, when her husband told her of the great love of God for Israel and his power at the Red Sea and his glorious purpose of peace and righteousness. Somehow or other Ruth had come to trust in Naomi’s God in spite of Naomi’s bitter experiences.

This leads us to our last way we can move on after loss…

Cling to God, He will Provide for us.

When loss hits, we wonder, “will we be okay?”  Will we ever feel better? Will we have what we need?  Who cares for me, who can help me?  The answer is yes, God is there.  God provides for his people.

God provided Ruth with a testimony to know Him personally though Naomi and her family.  Ruth was an idol worshipper from Moab who came to know the one true God. God provided friendship and family; Ruth and Naomi had an unbelievable bond to each other.  Each was a gift to the other.  God provided food for his people. As we look into chapters 2-4 we will see God provide them with a place to live and people who cared for them.  In their home there was food on their table each day. God provided a wealthy family member named Boaz to care for them and provide for them. God provided redemption through Boaz; he would purchase the property that once belonged to their family and provide them a home and a future.  God provided Ruth with a husband (and Naomi with a father in law) named Boaz which means “mighty man.”   God provided Ruth with a son named Obed who would have a son named Jesse who would have a son named David who would be Israel’s greatest king and a descendant of Jesus.

God provided these ladies with everything they needed: food, a home, a family, a community, children and a relationship with Him.   God provides us the same things.  When loss hits, cling to God, he will provide.

Will you trust Him?  I have decided to and I hope you will join me.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

 

Sources:
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.
John Piper, “Ruth: Sweet and Bitter Providence”
Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.
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Moving On After Loss – Part 1

Have you experienced a loss lately?  Do you ever wonder where God is when loss hits?  Does God care?  Is God at work in my circumstances when all I see and feel is darkness?   The book of Ruth tackles these difficult questions.  We all deal with loss.  During the Christmas holidays, Niki looked out the window and said,  “I don’t think Kooper (our family dog) is breathing!”  Sure enough we went outside and he was gone.  One minute our bulldog is sleeping and we’re enjoying the Christmas holidays; the next minute our family pet is dead and we’re in grief having to bury him.  Loss is inevitable, but how do we move on?

In our series New Beginnings we will see how Ruth deals with loss, grief and how she started over. Ruth teaches us the importance of clinging to family and faith.  We will see that God was with her and will be with us to bring new life and opportunities. Ruth is the only book in the bible named after a descendant of Jesus Christ and one of only two women with a book named after them.  Ruth lived in Israel during the time of the Judges. The four chapters that tell her life story are sandwiched in between the books of Judges and 1 Samuel.

Ruth’s narrative has been called the most charming short story in the Old Testament. Even people who are not believers have enjoyed reading this tiny book of the Bible. When Benjamin Franklin was United States Ambassador to France, he occasionally attended The Infidels Club, a group that spent most of its time searching for and reading literary masterpieces. On one occasion Franklin read the book of Ruth to the club members, but he changed the names in the text so it would not be recognized as a book of the Bible. When he finished, they were unanimous in their praise. They said it was one of the most beautiful short stories that they had ever heard and demanded that he tell them where he had run across such a remarkable literary work. It was his great delight to tell them that it was from the Bible, which they professed to regard with contempt, and in which they felt there was nothing worth reading! Well, let’s begin our own examination of this story by reading the first verses of the book.

The story of Ruth takes place “when the judges ruled(v. 1). The days of the judges lasted from the death of Joshua to the coronation of Saul as king (approximately from 1380 to 1050 B.C.). If you want to learn more about this period of Israel’s history, read the book of Judges. The ending of the book goes like this: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25 NKJV). Out of the dark days of the judges comes the book of Ruth—a story full of romance, redemption, and hope.  In chapter 1, Ruth and her mother in law Naomi have no idea that their story will have a happy ending.

Before the good news, there’s more bad news: “There here was a famine in the land.” 1100 B. C. was a hard time. The cycle of the Judges meant rebellion by the people and punishment from God. Whether the famine was the result of a particular set of sins on the part of the leaders of Bethlehem, we are not told. Bethlehem, which means, in Hebrew, “house of bread,” was a barren cupboard.

We are introduced to a family; a family that decides to move from their home in Bethlehem for greener pastures in Moab.   It’s an interesting family: let’s get to know them a little better in verse 2.

The name of the man is Elimelech which means “my God is King.”  What a great name for a Jewish man.  But not if you’re running off to Moab, the land of your enemies. He doesn’t act as if God is his King.  We have all been guilty of living like that.

The name of his wife is Naomi, her name means “pleasant.” Elimelech and Naomi have two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Mahlon means “sickly,” and Chilion means “crybaby.” She had two sickly boys.  And we read that she and her husband were Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah.  “ And they went to Moab and lived there.”

They leave the house of bread and they go over to eat out of a pig pen.  Did you ever hear that story before?  I’m sure it reminded you of the parable that Jesus told about the prodigal son. It’s likely that every parable Jesus gave was a true incident.  Probably there were many sons in that day to whom His parable could have applied. And from that day to the present that story has been repeated in literally millions of lives. Have you ever left God to live your own way?  Have you thought that God’s way is not the best way and that the grass is greener somewhere else? I have.  This family did too.

They arrive in Moab. Like Mexican families risking everything to cross into America, they find themselves alone in a foreign land… where Elimelech dies. Naomi now has only her two sons. Desperate, she negotiates marriages for them. This alliance surely brought stability to Naomi and her sons, so they stayed in Moab for ten years to be close to families of Orpah and Ruth. But the tragedy worsens: “Both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.”   (4-5)

For Naomi and Ruth, these women were in just about as dire a straight as women could be in that male-dominated age for to be women alone without men was to be faced with ruin. There was no social security in those days, no safety net, and no source for any kind of future if a woman didn’t have a man in her life. In those days, as Naomi alluded in verse 12, a woman without a man was a woman without hope.

In verse 6, everything changes.  The Lord is mentioned!  Naomi hears that God has provided food for His people! She packs up to go home, to back to the land that God had given her and her family.

How do we move on after loss? Remember that…

Loss is Part of Life, but God is Still with Us!

Question, is all suffering or loss bad?  In other words, if suffering or loss brings us to God consciousness is it bad?  I would say no. If God uses pain and loss to get us to look to him, it would be good.

The pain of shattered (lower) dreams awakens desire for God and for greater dreams. We dream of good things: happy marriages, healthy kids, comfortable lives, cushy retirements. Those are not bad, but we imagine they are best. And while we hold tightly to the hope of having those as the greatest good, we will not pursue an encounter with God. So God shatters those dreams to give us something better. Naomi would not find joy in a grandson by the son of the Moabite until she went through the bitterness of a loss of her cherished dreams of a happy life.

Ruth’s bad experiences deepened her trust in God. They led her to a new husband (ch. 4)  and together they had a son who was the grandfather of King David.  Often the most valuable lessons of life can only be learned during the unfair, the tough times of loss.

God was at work in these women’s lives during their times of loss. God is at work in our lives during times of loss.  God is still there working behind the scenes.  There may be death now, but God is working to bring new opportunities and new life.

The famine was over back in the Promised Land, and there was bread again in Bethlehem. Now she wants to return home. It’s interesting. The prodigal family and the prodigal son will long for the father’s house. And if they don’t long for the father’s house, they are not children of the father. The prodigal will never be happy in the pigpen. He or she wasn’t made for a pigpen. They don’t have the nature of a pig, they have the nature of the father, and will eventually say, “I will arise and go to my father.”

Can you identify with Naomi and Ruth? Have you experienced a loss? In difficult times God often does His greatest work.  Maybe God wants you to turn to Him. Maybe God is calling you back home.  Loss is part life, but God is still with us!

In the next post we will look at two more ways we can move on after loss.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

 

Sources:
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.
John Piper, “Ruth: Sweet and Bitter Providence”
Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.
“When Life’s Not Fair” Mark Adams
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