We all go through storms in life. More often than not they arrive without notice and catch us completely off-guard. We can go from one ordinary day to our world flipped upside down within minutes. Other times, it may not be so sudden but after a while, we look at our lives and wonder how we came to such misery. We may have different ways of dealing with life’s challenges but the Word of God gives an effective approach to take when faced with adversity. God knew we would have struggles so He put the advice there ahead of time.
In this book, you and I take a journey through the lives of Joseph, Job, Ruth and Jesus. For every one of them there is a different kind of storm. We consider their adversity, and note what we can apply in our own lives. In the end they all find joy again. What started out as hardship or tragedy ends beautifully.
So, how did God help them? Why was His favor on them? What did they do right? These are questions we receive answers to in the book. The answers will give you real hope for your situation and set you on the path to experience brighter days.
From Chapter Four: Beauty For Ashes
What Naomi feared is exactly what happened. According to the account, “The whole town was stirred because of them” (Ruth 1:19). Naomi was hoping she would enter covertly but quite the opposite happened. This tells us how prominent her family was, that the whole town would be stirred by her arrival. As the women who once knew her looked on, they asked those uncomfortable questions she had dreaded. They said, “Is this Naomi?”
The Naomi they knew was the wife of Elimelech a prominent man, she wore costly garments, looked well-nourished and was happy. The one they saw appeared weary, destitute, undernourished and had a grief-stricken look in her eyes. She had no family by her side except for a Moabite woman who looked just as desperate.
It was no coincidence that God allowed them to be seen by so many in the state they were. He wanted people to observe Ruth and Naomi before and after he gave them a better life. They would become an inspiration to the people of Bethlehem and to those who would read the account of their lives in Scripture.
Naomi felt embarrassed as the women looked at her with pity. It is possible that some who had envied her before displayed a deceitful sympathy. The route of defense Naomi chose though is interesting. “Do not call me Naomi“(literally means pleasant), she said, “call me Mara”, which means bitter (Ruth 1:20). She further stated that God had been against her and brought “calamity” on her.
Naomi wrongly believed that God was the source of her suffering and sadly, many of us have the same attitude.
God was not the cause of Naomi’s pain, the evil of this world is from the adversary. (John 10:10). The One who is all about destroying evil cannot be creating it. It is interesting to note that even as Naomi spoke these misleading words, God was still preparing a better life for her. He is gracious and kind to us even when we may not deserve it.
Ruth and Naomi came to the land that had belonged to Elimelech and stayed there. At this time, it was the season for the harvest of barley and since they both had nothing to harvest, they could only glean (picking up the grain stalks that fell to ground as people harvested). (From Ruth 1:22, Ruth 2:2)
It so happened that Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem at the start of the harvest. This seemed like a coincidence but it definitely was not. God was putting things into place so Ruth and her mother-in-law could have the abundance he prepared for them. Oftentimes, this orchestration is imperceptible to us, but with hindsight, it becomes clear. For Ruth and Naomi, it was nothing out of the ordinary; they had no way of knowing how much it would change their lives.
God’s deliverance can come when we least expect it. We just never know how soon He will move. In Ruth’s case, the path to a better life was in the most unexpected of places: where the gleaners collected grain in the fields.
The young woman had a humble heart. She had already resisted the temptation of remarrying as an easy way out. Ruth had no problem going out to glean even if it was rather degrading; the harvesters usually despised and harassed gleaners. God put the key to her deliverance in a place that required humility.
It is no secret that God desires that we are humble (Isaiah 66:2). When we have a meek disposition, it is easy for us to follow his direction irrespective of what people might think or say. Ruth did not worry about what people thought, she just did what she felt was right. She went out to the fields to find a place to glean.
She chose one field and asked the supervisor for permission to work there. He accepted and she began picking up the residual barley stalks. Ruth happened to select the field that belonged to a man named Boaz. (From Ruth 2:3, Ruth 2:7)
Boaz was a relation of Elimelech and a “mighty man of wealth” (Ruth 2:1 KJV). Ruth of course had no knowledge of this, she was just glad she found a field in which to glean.
Here we see God guiding her with his unseen hand. She could have gone to any other field and it would have changed everything. That said, He was not working independent of Ruth. She was in partnership with him through her own actions. She cared for her mother-in-law out of selfless choice; she was not obliged to do this, but knew it was right.
In an effort to provide for her mother-in-law, she went to glean and God guided her to the right field.
The best way we can allow the Lord to direct us is simply by living within his will. When we do what we know is right, then he can easily lead us. We should remember that Ruth had been through a lot herself but did not make an excuse of it to be self-seeking.
As she was gathering grain stalks, Boaz came along and he noticed her—he had never seen her there before. He asked his supervisor who Ruth was and the man said, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab”. Boaz knew about Naomi and he immediately had compassion for Ruth. He spoke to her kindly and told her to keep gleaning from his field until the harvest was finished. He also instructed the reapers to treat her respectfully. Furthermore, he told her she could have a drink of water from his vessels whenever she was thirsty. (From Ruth 2:4-9)
Boaz surprised Ruth with his benevolence and she asked why he was so gracious towards her even though she was a stranger. He said, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before”
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