I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty… (Ruth 1:21 NIV)
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT)
One last reflection on the Book of Ruth: Sometimes there is a particular verse or phrase that speaks to me when I read the Bible. This week Ruth 1:21 has been on my mind: “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.”
This verse brought back memories of my family. In a large family of modest means there is a certain way that food is distributed. My mother was adept at adding water to the soup. She could cut up a chicken in creative and non-traditional ways when there were extra mouths to feed. She knew how to make rice with chicken instead of chicken with rice. It was only after I left home that I realized people actually ate an entire steak all by themselves or an orange for that matter. In the evenings, for a snack, my mother would peel and divide an orange into wedges and each of us would receive a treat that was both juicy and sweet. Whether full or empty there was love and contentment in our family.
Naomi was afflicted, and could not see that whether empty or full, she was blessed, because the Lord had Naomi in his hands, He was watching out for her, He “had her back”. She did not realize that in many ways, she had left empty during a famine and come back in the company of the one who would fill her life with joy once more.
Sometimes, in our suffering, we fail to see how we have been blessed in the past, are daily blessed in the present, and will be blessed in the future. While Naomi had lost her sons and husband, she was given a daughter-in-law, who was “better to her than seven sons.” God provided access, through Ruth, to Boaz, a kinsman redeemer, who says: “Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” (Ruth 3:17 NIV) Then he takes her shawl and fills it with barley (six measures to be exact).
This is exactly what Jesus does for us as our kinsman redeemer. Like, Boaz, when we come to Him empty, He never lets us leave empty-handed. He gives us the kind of spiritual food that strengthens us and can be shared with others. By relying on His goodness and mercy we learn to be content in all circumstances. (Philippians 4:11)
Dearest Heavenly Father,
You fill us daily with your love. When we come to you, in good times and bad, you never let us leave empty-handed. Forgive us when we dwell on our suffering and forget to count our many blessings. Thank you, Lord, that you can be trusted to provide natural food for our bodies as well as spiritual food for our souls. Thank you for filling us with your love, and for giving us family and friends who minister to us when we are afflicted. We pray that as you fill us with your love, we will be able to carry your love and blessings to those who need to know you.
In Jesus’ Name,