Ruth 1:1-19 (excerpts) - In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. ... But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab ... But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each of you to her mother's house. ..." But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. 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." So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.
The story of Naomi and Ruth is not that unusual. It begins with a farm family from Bethlehem who has come on hard times during a famine and decide to emigrate in the hopes of making a better life. There is nothing unusual in this; it happens every day, even now.
Unfortunately, in their new country they find more suffering. First, the father dies. The two sons marry local girls, only to die in their turn, leaving no children. What a disaster! Poor Naomi is the only survivor. Grieving and hopeless, she decides to go back home. She has nothing left—except one small note of grace, a daughter-in-law who loves her enough to go with her to a strange country where they will live as widows together.
It's a tiny tragedy—a story of poor people, common people, most of them women. Why would such a story wind up in the Bible? Such tales are a dime a dozen. We can hear them at the border, at sea among desperate refugees, in displaced persons camps, or in gang-ridden neighborhoods where death is an all-too-familiar visitor. Usually, we turn away. There are too many people like this. The pain is too uncomfortable to watch, and too overwhelming. Let it pass by.
But God did not let this tiny disaster pass by. Though nobody could have foretold it, God used this tragedy to plant the seeds of His own Son Jesus' family tree. This burned-over little family came back to life, with an unexpected marriage and a new baby for Naomi to fuss over. And the foreigner Ruth? Well, she ended up as an ancestor of Jesus our Savior.
No doubt you know tiny disasters of this sort—people who have had too much bad luck in their lives for one person. Perhaps this describes you. If so, take comfort in knowing that God has not forgotten you. Your grief and suffering is the very soil from which Jesus' family tree springs to life. He came into this world for you—and for all who suffer under the power of evil. He came to carry our griefs and sorrows all the way to the cross, and to break the power of darkness and death through His own death and resurrection. He calls you to be part of His own family—healed, comforted, and given everlasting life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, reach into our darkness and bring us Your light. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. How do you react to news stories or commercials about suffering?
2. What do you do when you discover someone you know in real life is suffering in a terrible way?
3. How do you rely on God when you go through suffering of your own?
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