A friend of mine is fond of saying, “When you reach the end of yourself, you come to the beginning of God.” Though we like to think ourselves sufficient in our wisdom and ways, life has a way of proving otherwise. Striving produces riches that don’t enrich, willpower is openly mocked by addictions, mortality emerges through dreaded diagnoses, and one person cannot sustain a relationship alone. For Naomi and her family, self-sufficiency meant living by sight and not by faith. Amid famine, they left the promised land for seemingly greener pastures, and when Naomi’s husband and two sons died, she assessed the situation within the limitations of her own abilities, urging her daughters-in-law, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?”1 And who was God but someone to blame? “I went way full,” Naomi lamented, “but the Lord has brought me back empty.”2 At least He had her attention, and she would see His love.
She would see it through Ruth, her daughter-in-law, who in the words of Naomi’s friends, “loves you and who is better to you than seven sons.”3 God’s love would shine through Boaz, whose integrity and compassion would bring redemption and closure: “The Lord bless him!” said Naomi to Ruth, “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”4 She would touch and feel God’s love through the grandchild laid in her lap and through these tender words from the women of the town: “Naomi has a son.”5 No longer would they call her “Mara” [bitter]; she was renewed, she was Naomi again.
It hurts to lose those we love; it stings like nothing else possibly can. Yet God uplifts us with the promise of a greater glory, “an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”6 As we wait, He leads us to fuller fullness through stronger faith in Him. Writes Paul, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”7 It is in this confidence that we are transformed to become to those who follow us as those who came before us were to us—lovers of our soul—people like Ruth, Boaz, and now, Naomi.
Yes, Lord, renew us, that we would become like these, trusting in you and useful to others. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14)
1 Ruth 1:11
2 Ruth 1:21
3 Ruth 4:15
4 Ruth 2:20
5 Ruth 4:17
6 1 Peter 1:4
7 2 Corinthians 5:6, 7 ESV