Chronicled in Ruth
How far does our loyalty go? What are we willing to endure to remain steadfast to those we love? In the case of Ruth, her roots ran deep. Ruth would not be moved. She had shared all of life’s experiences with Naomi: love, joy, family, loss, grief, anxiety, and loneliness. When Naomi had lost all and was utterly alone, Ruth refused to abandon her. Even when Naomi changed her name to “Mara”—meaning bitter, to match the condition of her heart—Ruth stuck it out. That used to mean something in our world. It still does, in my book.
To preface, Naomi’s husband and two sons all died suddenly and basically at the same time, leaving her and daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah with nothing. Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah were left to fend for themselves in a “dog-eat-dog” world. Unlike women today, they could not apply for a widow’s pension. They essentially had to find food and shelter or die. With a husband, they were taken care of; after the sting of death, this was no more. Naomi really had no choice but to return to her hometown of Bethlehem, in Israel.
The problem was that Ruth and Orpah were Moabite women. Moabites were enemies of the Israelites. There were ongoing wars between the two groups. According to Israelite belief, the Moabite people originated from an act of incest between Lot and his daughter (Genesis 19:30-38), so the entire nation was “tainted.” Therefore, Naomi assumed that Ruth and Orpah would not want to return with her and risk any danger. She was half-right; Orpah returned to her hometown, but Ruth’s undying allegiance shone through. This would become the single most important decision in Ruth’s life.
Ruth had gone through a gambit of emotional turmoil. She bore the grief of her loss and became a woman without a home. She then endured suffering for the sake of another. All of that was erased, courtesy of her act of devotion to Naomi. Ruth began to glean harvested barley from the fields to feed her and Naomi. This is where she met Boaz, Naomi’s relative who would become her “kinsman redeemer” and save them from poverty and death. After marrying Boaz, Ruth bore a son (Obed), the grandfather to King David, which put Ruth in the lineage of Jesus Christ Himself. To be sure, the point of the story is that it was not just love or luck, but God who orchestrated Ruth and Boaz into their destiny. He had a plan.
That’s how it is with God. He never walks away from us. He is always there with arms of love outreached to rescue us from the depths of despair. If we cling to Him, God will uphold us with His righteous right hand. He will save us. He will bless us. He promises it in His Word.
So, how can we triumph in the midst of trial? Loyalty, my friends…loyalty. If we stick with God, He will most assuredly see us through!