I’ve been thinking this week about Ruth…the one in the Bible.I read the story again recently and I was gripped.
Ruth was a survivor. She’d left her home to move in with her husband and his family. But one-by-one, her husband had died, as had his dad and his brother, so now she was living with her dead husband’s mother and sister-in-law; 3 grief-stricken widows, struggling to make ends meet.
Naomi, Ruth’s mother in law (stoically) tried to encourage Ruth to go back to her hometown, to move on with her life, but Ruth was having none of it. There was nothing to go ‘home’ to. Naomi was now her family.
The Bible doesn’t explicitly say, but it seems that Naomi and Ruth were pretty poor. Ruth had resorted to gleaning in the fields, basically picking up whatever was left after the harvesters had collected the grain. It must have been hard, hot and thirsty (and miserable) work, all being done while Ruth struggled to come to terms with how badly her life had turned out.
Where had it all gone so wrong? She’d had a husband, a family, but now everyone was dead or very old and she was reduced to picking up scraps in order to survive.
There’s a lot more to the story, but it turns out that Boaz, the owner of the field in which she was gleaning, was actually a distant relative of Naomi’s. Again, nothing said explicitly, but it’s pretty obvious that from the beginning, Boaz had his eye on Miss Ruth.
If he has feelings though, he doesn’t say a word. He’s a fair bit older than her, but also I wonder if he can see how badly she’s been hurt. He doesn’t want to scare her off, so instead he just shows her a whole lot of kindness…makes sure she has plenty of food and water and also, that the male members of his staff leave her alone.
Long story short, Naomi spots a bit of a spark there and as was custom at that time, realises that Boaz (as a relative) has the legal right to ‘redeem’ Ruth. In other words, buy what was left of Ruth’s husband’s estate and marry Ruth.
Ruth clearly likes this plan….and if you don’t know the story, take a look at Ruth 1-4 for all the lovely details.
But, in short, Ruth suffered the tragedy of losing a husband, she struggled through pain, heartache, the upheaval of moving countries, living as a stranger in a new land, hunger, loss and poverty.
She thought her life was over and even when she meets Boaz, she doesn’t see the possibilities. The odds were stacked against them anyway; different races, different social classes, different ages (he was around 70, she was 40)…different life journeys.
But in the end, none of that was relevant, as their lives were linked together by an incredible,clever, Creator God…which is an amazing reminder that when we’ve given up, He’s still working behind the scenes.
When we think time has passed us by, God is (often) only just warming up. When we think something is un-redeemable, impossible, too hard….these stories shout so loudly, ‘NOTHING is impossible’.
God redeemed her tragedy and in the ancestral line, she ended up becoming the great grandmother of King David, making her also an ancestor of Jesus – the Messiah.
Think you’re too old? Past it? Suffered too much? Too bad? Too stupid?
Think again. God could be getting ready to write you a whole new story.