Reference Scripture: Ruth 1:3-5
“Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (Ruth 1:3-5).
The Old Testament book of Ruth is rich with examples of God’s faithfulness. The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz took place in a time when the people of
Israel had strayed far from the Lord. Yet even in those dark days, some still chose to follow God. Naomi was one such woman. How do we know? We know that Naomi was a godly woman because there was something about her faith that attracted her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to God’s heart.
Naomi was a woman who had to pack up her family and belongings and leave her home, her friends and everything familiar to relocate to a foreign place. She moved due to a famine in her hometown of Bethlehem. Naomi and her family moved from Bethlehem to the country of Moab. But in Moab, things went from bad to worse.
Naomi was a God-fearing woman who endured some serious shattered matters. She had left her home in a desperate situation and experienced even greater loss in the deaths of her closest loved ones. Her circumstances were undesirable and her future looked bleak. So…she made plans to head back home: to Bethlehem.
As they prepared to leave for Bethlehem, Naomi displayed loving kindness to her daughters-in-law as she released them from any obligation to relocate with her. She encouraged them to return to their mothers’ homes (v. 8) and pushed them toward new possibilities in their home country. She wanted them to have a fresh start, even though the prospects for her were dull.
Naomi knew that she was walking into uncertain territory as she headed home to Bethlehem. She had been gone for so long that she had no idea if there was any remaining family to care for her. Naomi was gracious and kind in not wanting Orpah and Ruth to endure the hardships she would probably face. What a selfless response. When shattered circumstances were all she could see, Naomi looked past her own need to the hopes, dreams and needs of her loved ones. When you and I face complex circumstances, we have that same opportunity to bless others in spite of the pain.
Theirs was a goodbye filled with tears, hugs and great pain.
Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side. Determined and loyal, Ruth held tightly to the woman she loved deeply. Not only did Ruth cling to Naomi, she held tight to Naomi’s God, the One true God of Israel. Though our natural tendency in hard times is often to try to go it alone, I’ve learned from Ruth, and from my own experience, that in turbulent times it’s vital that we hold fast to the ones we love and that we choose to trust God regardless of the circumstances that surround us.
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