I am enjoying going through the book of Ruth again and creating these studies. It’s a blessing to me to be reminded of the richness in this book. I was reminded this week that although we view this book as a love story, the word “love” is not found anywhere in the book. I was also reminded that God is good even in our suffering. This week we are looking at Ruth 1:10-18.
10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
Naomi’s daughters-in-law started down the road to Judah with her. Finally she decided they had gone far enough and urged them to go home to their mothers’ homes. Orpah and Ruth were determined to continue on with Naomi. Naomi pointed out that if the girls continued on with her they would have no hope of a future husband. She could produce no sons for them to marry, and as unacceptable foreigners they could have no hope of anyone offering to marry them.
Naomi feels hopeless for the girls and really for herself as well. Look at what she says, “…the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” Who can blame her for saying this? Her husband and two sons are dead. She has no grandchildren. She has spent some of the best years of her life in a foreign land cut off from family and friends in her homeland. Now she is returning to Bethlehem as a destitute widow. Who of us can blame her despair and tell her to just buck up and trust God?
When family or friends are going through a trial and are despairing, depressed even, what is your attitude? Do you try to force them into cheerfulness, do you quote stale platitudes about trusting God, or do you just listen? Many times when someone is hurting they don’t need you to say anything. They’ve heard it all, even said it all themselves, many times before. It’s hard to just sit and do nothing, but a listening ear is sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone in need.
There are things you can do. Hold them, take them out for a coffee, cry with them, give them a meal, scrub their toilet. But when it comes to talking think twice before you say anything. Don’t try to figure the problem out for them. Give them a safe place to cry. Just be there.
Orpah and Ruth clearly believed all that Naomi said. There was loud weeping. Naomi seems to bitterly watch Orpah go even though she had urged her to. She cynically urges Ruth to follow Orpah’s example. And here for the first time we get a glimpse of the beautiful character contained in Ruth.
Ruth abandons all that is known and familiar. She vows to follow Naomi until death. In spite of all Naomi and her family has been through, there was enough faith in their life to call Ruth to follow their God. She vows now to leave the gods she has known all her life to follow Naomi’s God.
Life has been so dark and full of sorrow for Naomi up to this point. I can almost feel the small glimmer of hope that must have touched her. She accepts Ruth’s offer to continue on. Doesn’t this so often happen to us? God knows our breaking point and never leads us past it. Naomi had touched bottom. God gave her a taste of what He had in store. She does not have to return to Bethlehem on her own. She will have companionship and help in whatever troubles might face here there.
God is good. We can never fathom the depths of His love for us. He only asks us to trust that He will work all things for good in our life as we love Him. Years ago I lost my fiancé. I could never imagine a life without him, but I am a thousand times over thankful that God allowed that to happen so I can have the husband I have now. God is good.
How has God shown His goodness to you even in a dark place? This poem expresses God’s goodness even in the dark times.