And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” (Ruth 1:15 NKJV)
When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her. (Ruth 1:18 NKJV)
The Bible is so rich I have difficulty reading it straight through like a recipe or a novel. The only way I have been able to read the Bible is to stay in a book as long as it takes to read, backtrack, dig deeper, reflect and understand its message. According to the 3-year plan, it should have taken me 2 days to read this book. Today, I’m still in Ruth.
This book tells the story of Elimelech and Naomi, an Israelite couple, who move to Moab during a famine. There, the husband and two sons die and Naomi, hearing 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.” (vs. 6 NIV) The book says “…she left the place where she had been living…” (vs. 7 NIV) After she has already left, she decides not to take her daughters-in-law with her. Orpah leaves and Ruth stays.
In Ruth 1:16 (NLT) Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, pledges her faithfulness to Naomi with beautiful and heartfelt words: “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
Naomi listens to Ruth and when she is convinced that Ruth will not be dissuaded from following her, “she stopped speaking to her.” (Ruth 1:18 NKJV) I never noticed before that Naomi never thanked Ruth for being so faithful to her. Here, Ruth is being “as sweet as she can be” (to use a familiar Southern expression) and Naomi just gives her the silent treatment. Why?
Have you ever been at an “all time” low in your life? Has it seemed like every bad thing that could possibly happen has happened in an abbreviated period of time? I think this is the kind of anguish Naomi is going through. Not only has she lost her husband and sons, but now she has two lovely young women for whom she is responsible. She is feeling the weight of that responsibility.
Naomi has reached the end of her emotional, financial and spiritual resources. To make matters worse, she believes God has turned against her. She is at a loss for words and too defeated to argue with or thank Ruth. I can almost hear her thinking: “Fine. Suit yourself. Come, if you must, but don’t expect too much from me. I have nothing else left to give.”
Have you ever come to the end of yourself? Have you ever felt empty and abandoned by God? Jesus did. He told his father, God, all about it on the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV) I think this is how Naomi feels.
God was with Jesus and God was with Naomi and Ruth. God is with each of us. The cross was not the end of the story. The cross was only part of God’s plan for us. Naomi’s losses are not the end of the story. Little did Naomi know that God would use her trials so that she and Ruth could be part of HIS story.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
You see and know all things. We, on the other hand, “see through a glass darkly.” You are the author of our story. Only you know the end. Though we may walk in darkness now, you have promised that someday we will be in the light of your presence. We believe you, because you are faithful and true. You have a reason and a purpose for everything, and you know that if we let you have your way in our lives, you will use the brief time we have here on this earth to make us part of YOUR story. Dear Lord, we put ourselves at your service.
In the name of Jesus, servant of all,