Ruth’s Journey into Hope

This post is linked up to Jennifer Moye’s Jesus & Coffee:

Image of teenage girl in casual clothes holding blank sheet of paper
Image of teenage girl in casual clothes holding blank sheet of paper

 

This is the 12th post for the series A January of Unwrapping Hope.

Ruth 1: 3 – 9, 16 – 17 (The Message)

Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons. The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years. But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband.

One day she got herself together, she and her two daughters-in-law, to leave the country of Moab and set out for home; she had heard that God had been pleased to visit his people and give them food. And so she started out from the place she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law with her, on the road back to the land of Judah.

After a short while on the road, Naomi told her two daughters-in-law, “Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me. May God give each of you a new home and a new husband!” She kissed them and they cried openly…

But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD – not even death itself is going to come between us.

Ruth 2: 5 – 7 (The Message)

Boaz asked his young servant who was foreman over the farm hands, “Who is this young woman? Where did she come from?”

The foreman said, “Why, that’s the Moabite girl, the one who came with Naomi from the country of Moab. She asked permission. ‘Let me glean,’ she said, ‘and gather among the sheaves following after your harvesters.’ She’s been at it steady ever since, from early morning until now, without so much as a break.”

Ruth 3: 3 – 5, 8 – 13 (The Message)

“Take a bath. Put on some perfume. Get all dressed up and go to the threshing floor. But don’t let him know you’re there until the party is well under way and he’s had plenty of food and drink. When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.”

Ruth said, “If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.”…

In the middle of the night the man was suddenly startled and sat up. Surprise! This woman asleep at his feet.”

He said, “And who are you?”

She said, “I am Ruth, your maiden; take me under your protecting wing. You’re my close relative, you know, in the circle of covenant redeemers—you do have the right to marry me.”

He said, “God bless you, my dear daughter! What a splendid expression of love! And when you could have had your pick of any of the young men around. And now, my dear daughter, don’t you worry about a thing; I’ll do all you could want or ask.

These were the Scriptures our guest speaker preached on yesterday. What he shared about Ruth and what came to me, as I reflected more deeply on the Word, fits perfectly with what I’ve been sharing about hope. Ruth gives us a Biblical example of what it looks like to seek after, accept, actively and responsively pursue and receive Hope.

Through the story of Ruth we are shown both that deep grief opens her up to seek after Hope and that a suffering, living vessel of Hope encourages her to accept Hope for herself. The story opens in a cloud of mourning: Naomi has lost both her husband and her two sons. Ruth has lost her husband. And yet, despite Naomi speaking of this as a “bitter pill for me to swallow” and that her “God has dealt [her] a hard blow”, in the midst of her own grief, Ruth chooses to forsake her kinsmen and women and her home to follow Naomi to a strange place, far away from everything she knows. What is it that causes Ruth to take this unbelievable step in her life? The Living Hope Naomi moves forward in:

Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD – not even death itself is going to come between us.

Even though Naomi is struggling tremendously with her new circumstances, Ruth must have seen something shining brilliantly within Naomi that she decides she so desperately wants for herself, for she repeatedly speaks of wanting to follow “you”, Naomi herself, and “your God”, Naomi’s God.

From my own experience I know that God can open the eyes of our heart to His Hope, through the piercing pain of grief. When my mother lay dying, the peace that clothed her rooted a yearning within me for the same Hope that my mother embraced and also caused me to look to others who carried the same Hope: in my case, men and women who shared their testimonies in books they wrote, which then led me to seek after the same Hope within the living Word of God. I am certain Ruth must have experienced something similar for her to leave her whole life behind her to enter a new life proclaiming “your God is my god”.

The story of Ruth also shows us that as we choose for Hope in giving ourselves to God, we stand before the choice to “swallow” the “bitter pill” of our circumstances and to work hard at pursuing our new life in Hope, or to dejectedly lie in our bed of suffering. Ruth (and Naomi) chose to fight for hope:

She’s been at it steady ever since, from early morning until now, without so much as a break.

Hope is thus not a passive concern, but an active pursuit. We are even more privileged than Naomi and Ruth because we have been gifted the Spirit of God and His Living Word to equip, comfort and encourage us in this pursuit. Last week, I experienced this in how God repeatedly spoke this Scripture into me, as I struggled with very little sleep and a sick daughter:

Galatians 6: 9 (ESV)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

As these words took root in me, and I stepped into them clothed in renewed hope, I found the anger, frustration and dejected spirit slowly ebb away.

Finally, Ruth’s experience shows us that God blesses us as we pursue hope in active, reverent and responsive silence. We see this when Ruth listens and responds to Naomi’s call to:

“Take a bath. Put on some perfume. Get all dressed up and go to the threshing floor. But don’t let him know you’re there until the party is well under way and he’s had plenty of food and drink. When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.”

For, Ruth responds with: “If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.”

And we see it as she follows Naomi’s advice to “wait” for Boaz to respond, waiting so long she falls asleep at his feet and as she later waits upon him to seek permission from the “closest covenant redeemer” (Ruth 3: 13). It is then, Boaz becomes her redeemer, agreeing to take her “as my wife” (Ruth 4: 9 – 10). The response of Boaz, whose genealogical line births Jesus Christ, foreshadows true redemption, just as Ruth’s actions mirror those of the Church, who persevere in hard-working endurance and wait upon their Hope in reverent, responsive silence until the day of betrothal, when Christ will make His Church His Bride:

Song of Songs 3: 5 (The Message)

Oh let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem, by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe – and you’re ready.

2 Corinthians 11: 2 (NIV)

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.

The story of Ruth can offer us beautiful encouragement. She shows us that:

  • God births Hope in suffering and makes it shine more brightly within us as we suffer. As we meet the ends of ourselves we yearn after and are led, spurred on by other believers, to actively and responsively seek after true redemptive Hope, shining our Light for others to see and yearn after in their own suffering. God thus redeems our suffering, by not only leading us homeward, but others through us.
  • As we pursue Hope actively and responsively, He fills the emptiness within us, sustaining and leading us onward to the day when Hope will be fulfilled: assurance in things unseen opening into unbelievable, glorious, awe-filling things physically beheld, face-to-face with our blessed Redeemer.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Ruth’s Journey into Hope

  1. Oh friend, Ruth’s story has always had such special meaning to me. A dear mentor, once shared with me, how important it is to allow our “Kinsman redeemer” to cover us in His cloak. God uses the body of Christ to help us tangibly know He is caring for us. And loves us through them.

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    1. I loved that post you wrote on that too. What I loved discovering this time was how God used both her own and Naomi’s suffering to birth hope in Ruth. He redeems all our pain and suffering, by both drawing us to Himself and bringing us together to support each other.

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      1. Yes, so true. I love the picture of supporing each other too. And I thought of this just last night. Sleeping was so hard, mind was busy, so I delved into that kindredness of the soul, as it mirrors Jesus and out relationships with others. Treasures indeed.

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  2. Thank you for this lovely post on redemption and hope! He does fill us with hope in the midst of suffering if just choose to see it! Glad I stopped by from #JesusandCoffee!

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    1. It’s hard to make that choice at times, isn’t it? So thankful we have a Saviour who understands that too and often leans in to embrace us through His Body, the church, when we struggle to go on. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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    1. I wrote this back in January for my Unwrapping Hope series…God knew I needed to be pursuing hope! Thanks for dropping by and for your beautiful post. Hoping to link up to your site more often, now that my book is done!

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