June 03, 2024

Ruth - Part 1

Devotion for the week...

Today I'm sharing the first in a two-part look at Ruth that was first shared as part of the 2023 Women of Wisdom QAL. Ruth has a four-chapter book named after her in the Bible, so I’ll have to do a lot of summarizing, even though we’re not going to be following all of her story. If you do want to read the whole story for yourself, you can do that here

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, we’re told that a man named Elimelech moved his wife, Naomi, and their two sons from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. In Moab, Elimelech died and his two sons married local women named Ruth and Orpah. Then the sons died as well, leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah alone. Naomi got word that the famine in Bethlehem had ended, so she decided to go back home, but she urged Ruth and Orpah to return to their own families so they could find new husbands. Orpah did as Naomi suggested, but Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law and so "they arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest" (Ruth 1:22).

With all that Ruth and Naomi had been through, it would have been understandable if they just sat and licked their wounds for a while at this point, which is what it seems like Naomi actually does. Upon their arrival, she told the women of Bethlehem, "Don’t call me Naomi…Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?" (v. 20-21). Mara means 'bitter' and Naomi sounds more than a little bitter here! 

Two women alone, without husbands, fathers or sons, were at a severe disadvantage back then, with few resources and few options for making a living. But Ruth didn’t let that stop her, nor did she let herself wallow in her grief or succumb to bitterness like Naomi. Instead, she got to work.

God had commanded the Israelites, "When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:9-10). Since the barley harvest was just beginning, Ruth "said to Naomi, 'Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it'" (Ruth 2: 2). Naomi agreed, so Ruth got ready and went to find a field to work in.

I’m going to stop there with the story for today, because it’s Ruth’s ability to move on that impresses me most. She and Naomi had both lost everything except each other, but Ruth didn’t join Naomi, wallowing in bitterness. Instead, she took stock of their situation and their options and got started on what she could do to make their lives better. Starting with their most pressing need, she made a plan to get them some food, so they wouldn’t have to rely on charity. This complete change in her life circumstances forced her to find a new way to provide for herself and her mother-in-law, and she rose to the occasion beautifully.
If we find ourselves in new and unexpected circumstances, we can let Ruth be our inspiration | DevotedQuilter.com

When life changes drastically, it can be hard to find our way forward. If everything is different, what comes next? If we find ourselves in new and unexpected circumstances, we can let Ruth be our inspiration and just get started by finding a way to take care of one need. Getting started is often the hardest part, but once we’re started, that forward motion will carry us through to the next thing.

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