Today's Lectionary Text
When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
The Psalmist proves right when he said: “The steps of a man are from the Lord, and he establishes him in whose way delights, though he falls, he shall not be cast headlong” (Psalm 37:23-24). This is a powerful scripture which reverberates on the characters within our devotion scripture. Life’s changes do not happen in a vacuum without God’s orchestrations. Ruth, a Moabite young woman, was not married into Naomi’s family by accident. Her loss of a young husband was tragic yet paved the way for a brighter future. At times life treats us harshly beyond our understanding. Still, we must be strong and courageous. We just must be resilience and leave everything in God’s hands.
Naomi expressed misery, discomfort, hopelessness, and weariness because of life tragedies. She had tragically lost her husband and two young sons. It was a painful experience to be left with childless daughters-in-law. Well, she threw away the towel and decided to return home to Bethlehem of Judah with nothing to for which to account.
Separating from her daughters-in-law was so painful. Astonishingly, she discovered a journey companion -- Ruth, her daughter-in-law. Ruth’s determination, strength, wisdom, and vows to follow Naomi were embedded within her heart. She was so kindhearted and felt the grief-based pain of her mother in-law and felt empathy for her. Even though Ruth had lost her own husband, she did not dwell on that. Rather, she focused on Naomi’s grief and was determined to help Naomi with her grief.
We find a unique young widow filled with love and compassion. She decided to follow Naomi on her journey to Bethlehem under such a difficult condition. A poor and mourning Naomi was stricken badly by life’s challenges and was the beneficiary of the best comforter to soothe her broken heart: “Allow me to follow you wherever you go. Your God will be my God and your people my people.” Wow! What remarkable commitment. Where did Ruth find such determination to go into an unknown place with Naomi?
We learn of the unwavering faith of the Moabite woman. According to Apostle Paul, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Perhaps Naomi prayed daily with her daughters in-law; and that was the basis of Ruth’s faith? Just an assumption. Ruth believed Naomi’s God and tasted his goodness in challenging times. That is so profound and encouraging. Ruth perceived a God who was able to transform tough situations into oasis or rivers of water. Bad things happen to us along life’s way, but God is the converter of our lives. Truth told; Ruth ended in the land of Bethlehem of Judah as a richly favored young woman. She ended up living a blessed life with a husband and son. for Ruth. She had cared for Naomi, providing for her physical nourishment and uplifting. This second marriage unveiled Jesus’ lineage through a resolute Ruth who supported a broken, disheartened widowed Naomi.
We learn a life lesson here. Life can twist us in so many directions. We must trust God in all things like Ruth did. Her courage to boldly follow Naomi teaches us to follow God in wherever he leads us. God was pleased with Ruth’s willingness and risk taking going to a strange land. We learn that being faithful rewards us even in troubled times. Listen to God's voice and follow, the best is yet to come. You are not alone.
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington and Solomon Yoked Parish
Prayer for Reflection
O God, teach us to follow you when life doesn't make sense. Guide us through life’s terrains as we head into unknowns of life. Teach us to be courageous people like Ruth and Naomi who walked in the darkest hours of life in faith. Amen.
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