Ruth=At a Loss, Still Faithful
Bible Background: The short story of Ruth & Naomi is about 2 women who suffer loss, experience despair, are vulnerable migrants, stick together, discover God’s blessing, and figure into the family tree of King David and Jesus! Many points of the story touch on similar issues of life in the world today. Basically this is a 4-act story: Scene 1=”Loss and Despair”, Scene 2=”Maybe There Is Hope!”
Scene 3=”Maybe There’s a Future!” Scene 4=”There is Blessing!” God never speaks in this short book. We see God acting behind the scenes!
Digging Deeper into Ruth Chapter 1: 1. Life happens. Stuff happens! A local famine forces a move to a foreign land. Sons marry. Husband and sons die. Three women are left vulnerable.
2. Vs. 16-17 are the best known lines in Ruth: “Where you go, I will go…” These are not marriage promises, but the strong commitment of younger widow Ruth, to her older mother-in-law Naomi. These two women, related by marriage and bound together in loss, will look out for each other!
3. Naomi’s struggle with loss and hardship is particularly painful. “No longer call me Naomi, call me ‘Mara’, which means ‘bitter’, for God has dealt bitterly with me.” Pray for the people you know, whose experience with loss and suffering, has made them feel like God has abandoned them. What do we say to someone who feels that? Or do we just listen and care?
4. At the start of the story, it’s ironic that Bethlehem-the house of bread, has no food to offer. At the end of chapter 1, when Naomi comes back to Bethlehem, with Ruth in tow, it’s the beginning of the barley harvest. Perhaps there is hope!
5. One also wonders how Ruth will fit in. She’s not from Bethlehem. She’s not Jewish. She’s an outsider. Will the other women accept her? “She chooses to leave all she’s ever known, to go to a place she’s never been, with no assurance of security.” (Kathryn Schifferdecker). How is this like the story of so many migrants today? Does Ruth’s story help us keep open minds and hearts towards those in her shoes today?
6. A key theme in this book is hesed=faithfulness. God’s faithfulness is evident. The story’s beauty comes from the displays of human faithfulness: Ruth to Naomi; Naomi to Ruth; Boaz to both of these vulnerable women. In many ways this is a story of how to love and care for our neighbor in word and deed!