In the midst of Israel's darkest hour God was at work. The distressing days of the Judges, with its repetitive sin cycle, cast a gloomy shadow over Israel. If that sin cycle weren't bad enough a famine settled in the land. For one woman this spiral of troubles continued unabated until she was left alone, bereft of husband and sons. She had only two Moabite daughters-in-law to give her solace. She felt completely forgotten by God. She struggled with bitterness, shame, and isolation. She even rebuffed her daughters-in-law's attempts to give solace in her grief. It seemed as if all is lost. But with God, the stories that begin with despair often end with glory.
Sometimes when life is in its darkest hour is when we must cling most to His mercy. Change is on the way. Not the change that comes with a political candidate or party but with a slow change that reveals the providence of God in the midst of dire suffering. The seeds of hope are watered by the good news that the famine is finally over in Bethlehem. That one little piece of good news changes Naomi's life forever. But more than that, it touches Ruth's life. Often our darkness is for the benefit of others. Naomi's crisis created Ruth's opportunity for faith in the Living God. Who knew that God had set His affection upon a young Moabite widow! Through this unlikely woman He would bless Israel with a king after the very heart of God!
Naomi's darkest hour was Israel's brightest hope. And she never knew it. She knows it now. That is how it is sometimes. We never know how others benefit from our grief. This reminds me of how the Hall of Faith ends: "And all of these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us" (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Judges 21:1-25; 1 Chronicles 6:4b-15; Ruth 1:1-2:24
- Why do the men of Israel go to such lengths to preserve the Benjamites? (See Deut. 33:12)
- What is Naomi's view of God?
- What does Ruth learn about God from her mother-in-law?
- What does it cost Ruth to follow after Naomi's God?
- How does Naomi view life?
- What do the people in Bethlehem (including Boaz) recognize about Ruth?
- How does God honor Ruth's faith in Him?
- What does this tell you about God?
Are you in a dark hour-- the mid-night of the soul? Verbalize your trust in the Lord in spite of your circumstances.