“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite, her daughter in law, with her who returned from the country of Moab, and they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
Thus ends one of the most tragic chapters we could almost imagine in somebody’s life. Specifically, when it comes to Naomi, she and her husband leave Bethlehem because of famine there. They take their sons Mahlon and Chilion and they go to Moab, a despised place. Like, you look in the Old Testament and you see the history of the Moabites up to this point, it is not good. They’re taking to this land because of famine in Bethlehem. When they get to Moab, Naomi’s husband dies and her two sons die, and she is left alone with two Moabite daughters in law. She says, “You all stay here. I’m going to go back to Bethlehem and hope that maybe God will provide for me there.” One of these daughters in law stays in Moab, but the other one, Ruth, says, “I’m going with you.”
Our God has a track record of taking the darkest days and shining light in the brightest ways. In Him we have a hope that will not put us to shame.
They travel back to Bethlehem, and when they get back and everybody recognizes Naomi, they say, “Hey, it’s Naomi. You’re back.” She says, “Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” which means bitter. She says, “The Lord almighty has dealt bitterly with me.” Basically, Naomi is coming back to Bethlehem with nothing, with nothing but a Moabite daughter in law beside her. She feels totally empty, totally barren. In a sense, hopeless, and this is what I love about the end of verse 22, because the Bible says that they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest, and Naomi and Ruth have no idea the hope that is found in those words, because this is not a time of famine anymore in Bethlehem. This is a time of harvest, and not just harvest, but a harvest that will lead to unimaginable blessing for Ruth and for Naomi, for generations to come, ultimately culminating in Jesus.
This story is a powerful picture of how God takes sorrowful tragedy and totally turns it upside down into surprising triumph. How God takes what seem like hopeless situations and He shines light and gives hope in ways that are far greater than anyone can imagine. I just want to encourage you, us, with that reality today. I am sure there are people listening right now who are walking through dark, difficult times, times where you feel hopeless or are tempted to despair. I just want you to hear this good news. Our God has a track record of taking the darkest days and shining light in the brightest ways. He has a track record of taking the most hopeless situations and totally transforming them by His grace and to the most hope full situations.
So, God, I just pray that over men and women, individuals, families, churches, even, that are walking through difficult times right now, that are walking through times of despair, even loss of hope. God, I pray that they would claim to you and the hope that is found in Jesus. That we would know, that men and women and families and churches would know that, with you, there is never a lack of hope. That, with you, in you Lord Jesus, there is always hope. So, God, please grant them grace to trust in you. Grant me grace when I face trials in my own life, my own family, the church I’m a part of, God please grant me, us grace to walk with faith in you even when it seems like the world is falling around us, to know that there is always hope in Jesus. God, I just pray that over every single one of our lives, that we would trust that in the darkest days you may actually be setting the stage for the greatest displays of your grace and light and hope and faithfulness to us.
We trust in this. We trust in this, Jesus, because we know this is the gospel. That, God, you have taken the darkest day in the history of the world and you have turned it into the brightest day in the history of the world. When Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins and then he rose from the grave, he made eternal life possible so the not even death, what seems like the most hopeless thing in this world, not even death has the last word. All glory be to your name. You are the God of hope and we trust in you today. In Jesus name we pray, amen.
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