There was a mother in the Bible whose life circumstances made her a bitter, resentful woman. We don’t know all the details, but we do know this: her husband died, leaving her a widow in a foreign country. She was left under the care of her two sons and their wives. But not long after her husband’s passing, both sons died too. This mother, Naomi, was stuck in a foreign land with a different language, strange customs, different ideas about life and it should be lived, and many more things she did not understand. With no husband to stand by her and no children to comfort her, she lifted her head to heaven and shook her fist, “How could you?!” she yelled, “This is not fair! How could this happen? Where are you, God!?”
Like the fork in the road, this incredibly difficult life offered two paths. One of bitterness, another of loyalty to God. Both went in two different directions, never to intersect. Naomi took the path of bitterness. Her grief was unbearable, and what once might have been a joyful sharp lady became a resentful old foreigner everyone tried to avoid. Her cynicism reeked from her words and life. You could smell it from a mile away.
You can imagine that her two daughters-in-law were also grieving. After all, they had lost their husbands too. Nevertheless, they felt compassion for Naomi. They knew who Naomi was like before all this tragedy. They wanted to comfort her: “We are here for you,” they would say, “we will take care of you.” Although both daughters expressed their allegiance to Naomi, only one was loyal.
After a while, Naomi made plans to leave that foreign country. One daughter whimpered and cried, “Please stay!”, but when Naomi expressed her resolve, that daughter walked away. The other daughter, Ruth, though not as expressive as the first, clung to her bitter mother-in-law. “Go back with your sister-in-law,” Naomi said, “maybe you will find another man that will love you and care for you.” But Ruth committed herself to her mother. She made a promise to Naomi, a promise so extraordinary, it would forever change Ruth’s destiny. “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back,” she said, “wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
Ruth traveled with her embittered mother back to Israel. By God’s incredible design, she met and married a great wealthy landowner who was a leader of the community. Together, they built a great family and became the ancestors of King David and Jesus Christ.
Why is the story of Ruth and Naomi so important for us today? Ruth’s teaches us about commitment.
- Commitment is godly thing. God will ask you and I to be committed to very imperfect people, even bitter ones. When it seems impossible to tolerate them, that is your chance to show God’s love. We are committed to others, because God is committed to us, even with all of our faults.
- Promise keepers are rewarded. Proverbs 28:20 says, “The man who wants to do right will get a rich reward. But the man who wants to get rich quick will quickly fail.” Sticking to your commitments and to people you’ve committed to is work, but it’s work that is rewarded. Your loyalty will reap support and reward.
- Above all, commit yourself to God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Ruth didn’t just commit her way to Naomi, she committed herself to God. She was faithful to keep her promise, and because of that, God orchestrated a husband and home where she and her mother could thrive.
Imagine what God could do if you commit yourself to Him. The one who charted the stars in the sky, the seasons on earth, and the tides of the ocean has everything set in just the right place to work just as He wants it to work. More than all of his creation, He loves you. He loves you enough to give His own Son so you might have communion with Him.
Now, imagine what the Creator could do if you committed yourself to Him and let Him organize your life. You wouldn’t have to worry about a thing! The right people and the right circumstances would come straight to your door, that is the proven destiny of those who are loyal to Him.