Ruth is a beautiful story of redemption.
It begins by placing Naomi and her family in a famine during “the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). When the judges ruled was a difficult time for all the people of God. There was no king to rule. So, “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
Now, we don’t need to suggest God brought famine to the judges or the people. History knows leaders quite willing to withhold aid and support for their people. The judges and the people may not have caused the famine that brought death to Naomi’s family. I’m sure, though, they didn’t help. It’s bad news all around when people only do what’s right in their own eyes.
After her husband and two sons died, Naomi decides to return to her homeland. I assume there has been no help for her here anymore. The famine took her security. But she has heard “the Lord had considered his people and given them food” (Ruth 1:6).
After she and her two daughters-in-law began their journey back, she stopped.
I wonder what she had been thinking up to that point. How much did she wrestle with herself over this decision? What made her finally decide to send the other two back to their home?
Of course, one of the daughters-in-law doesn’t leave her. I don’t know that we’re supposed to make much of Orpah’s decision to return to her mother. But Ruth clung to Naomi. Her decision is altogether inspiring, convicting and irrational. It’s also a most compassionate act of sacrifice.
And she was a Moabite! They’re supposed to be enemies of God. But God’s family is always expanding, including even those people you’d rather forget.
Naomi had heard God gave food to the people back home. She hoped God would do the same for her. God did much more. The Lord blessed her with a daughter that would help care for her. They both became important parts of the story of God leading to Jesus.
All Naomi wanted was food, but she got so much more.
It’s a reminder today that God will care for us. Even out of tragedy and despair, God can and God does still work so much for our good.