Someone told me this past week, “Kathy, you are so much more contented than when I first met you two months ago.” I replied, “Really? You are able to see that in me?” I guess I often don’t perceive such things in myself and it’s encouraging to receive another person’s affirmation. It motivates me to do the same for others.
In Ruth 4:14, Naomi’s friends, I believe, did this for her. They had seen their friend journey from a place of darkness to a new place of hope, joy, and contentment. They noticed a change in her countenance and rejoiced with her. But, let’s back up a little and see how Naomi reached this brighter horizon.
If you missed last week’s entry, reading it first will help you understand the context of today’s writings. I said I had learned some important lessons from Naomi’s story and shared the first two. When life throws the unexpected at us and our world is turned upside down, how do we move from darkness to light? First, Naomi never lost her faith in God despite her circumstances. She continued to trust in His sovereignty. Second, she turned to the support of her friends who cared for her.
Third, Naomi poured her efforts into the welfare of another. This is not an easy task when you are in physical or emotional anguish, suffering from personal loss, facing financial hardship, reeling from rejection and hurt, watching a loved one battle with a chronic or terminal illness, or agonizing over difficult decisions. Naomi could have chosen to languish in self-pity and bitterness the rest of her life. Who could fault her for that? I’ve experienced all these things and it is easier to submit to the temptation of remaining in despair, resentment, or depression than to claw your way back.
One thing that really helps me during such times is responding similarly to Naomi. She willed herself to turn her focus away from her own needy state to the necessities of her daughter-in-law, Ruth. She began to use her wisdom and influence to guide the younger woman towards finding a better future. Titus 2:3-4 instructs older women to watch the way they live and to teach and train younger women valuable lessons that will enable them to lead exemplary lives.
|Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia|
When Ruth took the initiative to humbly glean in the fields (in today’s terms, scrounging for food others have left behind or thrown out), Naomi encouraged her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2) I think the relationship between these two was deepening into a very unique bond.
Fourth, when Ruth returned later with much more than could be expected, Naomi’s spirits were notably lifted, “Where did you glean today?...Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” (2:19) Upon learning the man was Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s late husband and a man of standing (this probably implies wealth, influence, and social status), her countenance brightened further and she said, “The Lord bless him!...The Lord has not stopped showing His kindness to the living and the dead…That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsmen redeemers.” (2:20)
In short, a kinsman redeemer was a man in the Jewish culture of the day who was the closest relative of a deceased man. He was responsible to marry the widow, care for any surviving children, and acquire any property belonging to the deceased.[i] Naomi knew this law and that God had provided a way for her family’s future to be secured.
There isn’t enough room today to describe all that happened next, but you can enjoy reading it in chapters three and four. As Naomi continued to advise Ruth and look after her welfare, I believe Naomi began to see more and more of the bigger picture unfold before her eyes. It gave her hope and the fresh perspective she desperately needed.
How careful and faithful am I to thank the Lord for each way He provides for my needs?
Fifth, Naomi once again found peace and joy as she rested in the fulfillment of God’s plan for her family. After Ruth and Boaz were married, God blessed them with a son, Obed. “Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’” (4:16-17)
|Fort Amherst, Prince Edward Island|
This son became the grandfather of King David and the ancestor of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
It’s amazing to reflect on God’s redemptive plan for mankind!
Until next Sunday,