So, you think you have it hard? Read the Book of Ruth. While I was reading this yesterday in my devotions, I tried to put myself in Naomi’s place. In this short book of four chapters, Naomi (the mother-in-law of Ruth) emerges as the main character, referred to 23 times, whereas Ruth is mentioned 17 times. In fact, this book could have been called the Book of Naomi. The story opens with Naomi following her husband, Elimelech, away from the land of Israel due to a famine. They travel to the nearby country of Moab. While there, Elimelech dies. Later, both of Naomi’s sons also die. She is left in great despair…a destitute widow in a foreign land. But God, in His faithfulness, sees Naomi and knows her situation. He has blessed her with a daughter-in-law, Ruth, who is totally committed to the Lord and to following Naomi. After about ten years, Naomi hears of God’s blessing of provision back in the land of Israel and decides to return, with Ruth right beside her. While back home in Bethlehem, the Lord shows Naomi amazing grace and the story ends with great joy. Ruth marries a relative of Naomi and bears a son (Obed) who carries on the family name, eventually becoming the great-grandfather of King David! This story helps me consider the realities of life. Naomi, a believer in the Lord, was not immune to life’s difficulties. For a long time she had to fight discouragement and the temptation to give up. Naomi could have stayed in Moab and died in Moab…end of story. But she allowed hope to rise in her heart and took a step of faith back to the Lord’s promised land. As we walk with Jesus, we realize that difficulties and problems are never the end of the story. The Lord is with us, and He shows us the steps of obedience we need to take toward ultimate victory. He doesn’t give up on us—no matter our circumstances, past mistakes, or wrong choices. By His grace, the Lord can take the dark colors of our disappointments and use them as the backdrop for a beautiful masterpiece. If you feel you are in a “Moab” time, take heart and humbly receive the grace God freely gives. He has a good ending in mind for you!
Pastor Mark Boucher