A Story About Faith in Troubled Times
Ruth at thirteen was preoccupied with her newly developed breasts, the hair that had grown where it had not been before and the commencement of monthly periods. This meant that she would soon be married. She dreamed of a handsome prince or at least the son of a wealthy citizen in her country of Moab.
But it was not to be. Her father could not afford to marry her into a wealthy family. She had to be content with marrying the son of a refugee widow, a young man called Chilion. But she hardly had time to get used to his ways, especially his strange religion , when he died.
That was bad enough, but when her brother-in-law also died, Naomi, her mother-in-law, was left destitute. Without protection or financial support Naomi decided to return to her homeland and told the two girls they should go back to their families. Orpah, her sister-in-law did, but Ruth would not hear of it. Naomi would need somebody to help her, so she accompanied her mother-in-law on the long and dusty journey to strange and distant Judah.
That meant, in Bethlehem, both women were vulnerable, without protection or financial support. They had to do something to keep alive, so, in spite of the dangers, Ruth went gathering the grains of wheat dropped in the paddocks of a rich man called Boaz while the harvesters were reaping his crop.
She had lost a husband, was far away from her own people, without anything like a social security pension. She had left the religion that she had grown up in and was staring outright starvation in the face when things took a decided turn for the better. Boaz gave her food and ordered his workers to purposely leave grain for her to take home. He gave orders that she was not to be molested, and eventually when she came to sleep with him on the threshing floor he cleared the legal obstacles and married her. They called their first-born son Obed. Through Obed she gained a grandson, Jesse, and, although she may not have lived to see it, one of Jesse’s sons, one with the name of David , became Israel’s most famous king.
Something to Think and Talk About
We don’t know much about Ruth’s faith except that she is reported to have said to Naomi, when told to go back to the security of her own family, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”There are some things that we can say about Ruth though:
- She was intensely loyal and supportive of her mother-in-law.
- She did not wallow in self-pity when life became difficult, but she did something about it.
- Her misfortune turned out, in the long run, to be a cause of blessing, not only to Naomi and herself, but to the whole Jewish race, indeed, through one of her descendants, to the whole human race.
- What do these say to you about faith in times of trouble?
- How has your faith helped you in times of trouble?
Read Psalm 114
In this song, the people of Israel remember God’s deliverance of them in the past.
- What part does memory play in helping us face troubled times?
- What part does it play with you?
Holy and loving God, I praise you for the Gospel telling of your love and grace.With faith in that steadfast love I can weather the storms of life.With faith in your invincible power I can go forward confidently rejoicingeven when my world collapses. Lord, increase my faith. Amen A CommitmentGod is my refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble.Therefore I will not fearthough the earth should change,though the mountains shakein the heart of the sea;though its waters roar and foam,though the mountains tremblewith its tumult.God, you are my refuge and strengthA very present help in every trouble.I hand myself over into your love and care. (Referense is to Psalm 46: 1-5)