We ended day 11 with a quote about ‘gospel-shaped community’ which Naomi and Ruth exemplify. They’ve come to Bethlehem together, and they are going to figure out a way to survive together.
As we follow Ruth and Naomi’s journey, read all of chapter 2.
Almost as soon as our two make their new home, we see Ruth get to work during the harvest season (2:2). She understands the custom of ‘gleaning’ (Deut 24:19–21) which was a sort of ‘welfare’ program for the poor. The harvesters would leave a little behind for widows like Ruth, needing a way to provide for themselves.
Ruth has a ‘chance’ encounter with a distant relative of Elimelech’s, named Boaz. I love the conversation between the two women as Ruth comes in for the day with her hard-earned wheat. For the dialogue, revisit verses 2:17-22.
Don’t you just get the feeling like some of Naomi’s bitterness is lifted in this very conversation?? Naomi is already sensing that the Lord’s favor may be with them after all. Also, I just get the feeling like there might have been a little giddy, school-girl gushing going on between the two. It was about time for them to have something to get excited for, and this was a big one. Safety was being offered to Ruth as she worked, and not only that, but sustenance to live another few months. This was huge. And it was not a chance meeting at all, but divine providence.
Oh, it’s getting so good. Let’s keep going on into Ruth 3:1-6 to see what happens next.
As the weeks passed, and the harvesting season was coming to a close, Naomi would have understood that Ruth was still not out of poverty’s reach. The respect and adoration she had for her loyal foreign girl could have only increased as the days and weeks went by as the two lived together.
Naomi wanted to take care of Ruth, so she devised a plan. She had paid attention to detail, and gave Ruth clear instruction. It was a risky idea, but Naomi believed in it—and wanted her adopted daughter to be taken care of.
I also love her attention to timing. Girlfriend knows it’s all about the timing. Boaz would have been full and happy in his tent, resting after harvest season was complete. But not just timing, Naomi also puts a lot of trust in Boaz’s faith and reputation.
My mom used to always tell us that no matter what, she couldn’t go to sleep until we got home from a night out with friends. In high school, I had mixed emotions about that particular sentiment. On one hand, I loved that she cared about our safety—but on the other, that meant if I tried to sneak in past curfew she’d definitely know.
Can you imagine the nerves Naomi must have felt as she sent out her beloved Ruth into the night like she did? I bet she was on her knees pretty intensely that evening.
She put her trust, and the fate of her Ruth, in the right God and the right man.
If you dive into Ruth 3:7-15, upon Ruth’s early morning return, you see Boaz get right to work.
We’ve got to read verse 3:16-18 as if it’s a movie script. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a laid-back, glancing up from morning coffee and oatmeal, “Oh, hey, how’d it go last night? Everything alright?”
I’m thinking more along the lines of a nervous, nail-biting, fidgeting-until-Ruth-gets-back, then jumping-up as she quickly enters, trying to contain her nerves as she grabs her and can’t get it out fast enough: “My darling, is everything alright? What did he say? How did he look when he saw you? Are you okay? How do you feel?”
Ruth told her everything. Probably flushed and nervous, the two dissected every last detail, until all they could do was wait.
If you read on and finish Ruth 4, we see Boaz appropriately handle the situation of Elimelech’s property, and Ruth. When he does, they marry.
Soon after the nuptials, Ruth conceives and delivers a baby. Oh, the love that little boy must’ve received from his Naomi.
In verses 4:14-15, what are some of the things ‘the women’ said to Naomi?
‘The women’ were likely the same group who met Naomi upon her return to Bethlehem. They re-enter the conversation after baby Obed’s arrival. As far as we know, they listened and sympathized when Naomi wanted to be called Mara, and possibly helped Ruth and Naomi get back on their feet a little. But when the time came, they reminded Naomi that God had surely not forgotten her. The caring, considerate, and bold speech they give Naomi makes them like those invaluable friends that love you enough to speak truth at the appropriate time.
When we see Naomi, head-over-heels elated with this baby, her true friends are there to remind her just how this baby came into the world.
A loyal, familiar God did a work in a loyal, foreign girl to change the trajectory of Naomi’s life, Elimelech’s line, and the future of the entire world.
You see, Naomi had never been forgotten; it was quite the opposite actually. She had always been a part of the plan.
At the close of the Book of Ruth, we see Naomi choose joy. She could have cried over the fact that it wasn’t her son Mahlon's baby she was holding, or that Elimelech wasn’t there for all of the coos and first smiles. She could have reflected on what it might be like if Orpah had come along, too.
Maybe she did, maybe she reflected on these things privately. I can’t help but think that she absolutely would have wanted her husband and sons there with her. We’d be crazy to say that would have been wrong of her to wish.
For Naomi, and everyone else, life kept moving on. With every season, she had a choice: in the beginning of our meeting her, she chose bitterness, then she chose to help Ruth, and at the end of her pages in our Bibles, she chose joy and thankfulness.
We don’t forget our losses, but when we choose to believe that we are still walking out the pages of our life with God by our side, there is room for our story to grow and change and become beautiful again. Naomi’s did. Why can’t yours?
Unopened packages of loss are sometimes the hardest to lighten our grip on. A part of us wants to stay sad forever, because somewhere in our grief, we convince ourselves that we don’t want to know a joy-filled life without our missing loved ones in it.
Sometimes losing a loved one looks like a funeral. Black pumps, appropriate cardigan, awkward hugs from people you don’t really know, and a very real casket sitting right in front of you.
But sometimes loss looks like cutting ties to live healthily. Sometimes loss looks like walking away from someone or something you always thought would be. Or them walking away from you.
Either way, the package was one way most of your life, and now it’s not.
- What will you choose today? Bitterness and hurt? Or redemption and healing?
- How can you personally use the story of Naomi to address your list of packages?
- What do you think the book of Ruth is teaching you this week?
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