Ruth 1:5 “Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (NIV).
Observation: Naomi and Ruth’s story is a portrayal of loss, commitment, restoration, and divine provision. Naomi had gone with her family to live in Moab due to Bethlehem’s famine. There, her husband died. She remained in Moab where her two sons married local women, but Naomi’s sons also died leaving Moabite widows, one of whom was Ruth. From the depths of her loss, Naomi spoke words of blessing and release to her daughters-in-law as she prepared to return to Bethlehem. Orpah kissed Naomi and went back to her people, while Ruth clung to Naomi and pledged to remain with her regardless. Together Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem bereft of any means of support except to glean the “leavings” after fields had been harvested. In the fields of Boaz, Naomi’s husband’s relative, they found one who would take them under his sheltering wings.
Application: Who among us would not be smitten by a God of such love? In Boaz, the kind kinsman-redeemer, we see a picture of Jesus, the one who paid a price only He could pay to redeem that which would otherwise be lost forever. Ruth captures first the eye of the king, and then His heart. It is a stunning story we long to see played out in our own lives. We want to be the one chosen and have our needs met in the most lavish provision of the king. Ruth met Boaz, and her needs were met with enough to spill over and bless Naomi as well.
Scripture bears no hint that they had been in error to go into Moab in the first place: Bethlehem experienced famine, and they had simply gone to find food. But Moab never became home to them; they had not “settled in” after a decade. Once the men in Naomi’s life had died and she heard that the Lord was again providing for His people in Bethlehem, she set her face toward her true home, prepared to leave behind even her sons’ widows. Naomi’s heart was so attuned to God’s provision that she coached Ruth into a position of receiving all God was willing to pour out. Naomi’s loss in an alien land became her gateway to the Lord’s provision.
I, too, have run into the arms of the Savior after awakening to my need in Moab. Life’s pain is the tool God uses to plant within me a longing for my true home, not to “escape” per se, but to embrace something far better. Just as there was a glimmer of remembrance of her true home in Naomi’s mind, so He builds into each of us the faint echo of remembering a place we may have never yet been, but a place we long to be: safely home, held in His loving arms.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am in that alien land even now, yet my heart expands with longing for a place I have never seen. Only in You, Lord, is that longing fulfilled.