Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-19a - 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. ... Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives .... 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, for she had heard ... that the LORD had visited His people and given them food. ... And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." 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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you." And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.
It's a strange family for the Messiah to arise from—one filled with tragedy, grief upon grief. First came the famine, and they moved away to a foreign country to try to make a living. Then the father dies, leaving his wife alone with two sons. They marry local girls, but there are no children. Then both sons die, and the women are left with nothing at all.
It's the kind of horrible situation that shakes people's faith—in fact, it probably shakes the faith of the bystanders even more than it does the faith of those who are suffering. How could God let so many terrible things happen to someone? Has God completely forgotten them?
Naomi and Ruth did not have any answers to these questions. They just did the best they could. They moved back to Bethlehem, where they would live in poverty, with Ruth picking up bits of grain in the fields of nearby farmers.
You probably know how the story ends. Through a series of unlikely events, Ruth marries a local landowner named Boaz and becomes the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth couldn't foresee any of this, but God could. God had in mind to use her as part of Jesus' family tree.
Ruth brought her status as an outsider into Jesus' family—yes, and her sorrow and her endurance with her as well. These were fitting gifts for the great-great-great grandchild who would be called "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3b). If your life is full of suffering and grief, you too fit right in with Jesus' family. You are the one He is calling to belong to Him. He wants you-so much that He lay down His life to make you His, and rose again so that you could belong to Him forever.
WE PRAY: Lord, You know my troubles. Help me to trust in You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. What effect does trouble have on your faith?
2. Why do you think it has that effect?
3. How do you find help in God when you are deeply troubled?
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