The book of Ruth
The story of Ruth begins with despair and bitterness, but resounds with an overwhelming message of grace and redemption.
Tess and Delaney brought us the story of Naomi and Elimelech, and couple living in Bethlehem with their two sons. When famine hit Bethlehem, they feared the uncertainty that laid before them, and decided to take matters into their own hands. They left Bethlehem and settled in Moab, a country known for its perversion and sin. It wasn't long before the sons each took a Moabite woman to be their wives, but soon after, Elimelech and both of his sons died, leaving Naomi with her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah.
Still living in Moab, Naomi received news that God indeed had provided for Bethlehem, and she decided to return in hopes of finding refuge. She urged both Orpah and Ruth to remain in their homeland of Moab, knowing that without any men in their family, she would be unable to provide for them in any capacity. Orpah agreed and said her goodbyes, but Ruth was determined to stay at Naomi's side. "For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." Ruth gave up a certainty of prosperity in Moab to an unknown future with her mother-in-law, choosing to trust in the God that provided.
When returning to Bethlehem, Naomi was the talk of the town. She was overwhelmingly bitter at God for the situation she was in. Naomi told anyone who would listen about how God had taken everything from her. To Naomi, Ruth was a display of God's curse on her, but Ruth remained faithful even still.
Ruth took to the fields, collecting crops leftover from the harvest, when she happened to come across a man named Boaz. He was the complete package: wealthy in money and character with his eyes set on Ruth. When Boaz heard of Ruth's faithfulness to Naomi, he was moved to compassion. He told her she no longer needed to work in different fields; he would provide her with everything she needed. Ruth reported this back to Naomi, who was thrilled.
Culturally, if a man died and left a family behind, another member of the family could redeem the members, land, and property. Because Boaz was a relative of Elimelech, he was able to be the family redeemer to both Ruth and Naomi. He stepped up to the plate, married the woman he loved, and cared for Naomi, the woman whose lack of trust in God had no effect on God's divine plan for his people.
In the toughest times of struggle and uncertainty, Naomi took matters into her own hands in an effort to provide for her family. Even so, God was faithful and provided exactly where and how He said He would. When Naomi returned to benefit from God's blessing, she still placed blame on His will rather than her decisions.
Even so, Ruth stood by Naomi. She chose to believe God would provide, and kept her eyes on Him. Because of her faithfulness, Boaz took notice and provided for her in every way.
We often try to take things into our own hands. We wander back and forth, looking for resolution and comfort. But God sent us a family redeemer. Jesus took notice of us. He gave us hope at harvest time. He assured us we never had to work in another field; his field was all we would need. He paid the price to redeem us, and has given us assurance that He is all we will ever need.