Ruth answered, â€œPlease donâ€™t tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God. I will die where you die and be buried beside you. May the Lord punish me if we are ever separated, even by death!â€ Â Â Ruth 1:16-17 (CEV)
The story of Ruth is often thought of as romantic and very â€œhappily ever after.â€ After all, Ruth begins sadly as she marries a man, who dies before any children. But she eventually marries another man, Boaz, and ends up the great-grandmother to King David and in the lineage of Jesus. Not bad. Then there is Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, who also must go through the death of her husband and both of her sons. The story has much more.
In this time, the death of your husband and sons when you are past your child-bearing years, means you are more than alone. Often widows are homeless and starving, or worse, prostituting themselves as they have no one to provide for them. Women do not have paying jobs. And so Naomi enters a dark time and becomes, by her own words, very bitter (1:20-21). Have you ever felt that God had given you more than you could handle? Have you ever walked through a dark valley and wondered, â€œWhere are You, God?â€
Ruth, now a young widow, apparently does not want to return to her family. I’ve read that young women in her situation who return to their homes end up nothing less than a servant in their own families. They are not considered a commodity any longer in the marriage market so they care for their aging parents and the children of their siblings. Ruth makes it clear to Naomi that she will stay with her wherever she may go. Now this is quite a statement since Naomi has no visible means of support. Ruth seems to know the seriousness as she says she will even die with her. And â€“ Ruth also says that she, a Moabite, will also worship the God of Israel. That is a serious commitment. Through that promise Ruth sets into motion the plan of God to provide for her and Naomi in an abundant way.
Ruth shows me that the Kingdom of God will be built by those who are faithful in their commitment and obedient to God’s direction even when the wisdom of the plan or understanding the direction of the plan is not clear to my human abilities. Could it be that the presence of a Moabite in the human lineage of Jesus is an early sign of God’s plan that all nations would be welcome in His Kingdom? Jesus died for the sins of all God’s children.Â
And Naomi is transformed through the God-directed acts of Ruth and Boaz. God’s plan all along was to use His children to spread His Good News of His saving grace, His extravagant love. And that is the precious lesson that I am taking away today. Hope. No matter the circumstances of my life and the lives of God’s children throughout the world, there is always Hope, not just in a better tomorrow, but in the promise from God for the forever, without end life. When I lift up my eyes to look past what is in the now and focus with sight given to me by God’s Spirit, I can see my LORD and know His love for me (Psalm 121).
So You Would Come written by Russell Fragar and sung by Darlene Zschech