Ruth 1:16-17 - 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."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour message by guest speaker Pastor Cody Cooper based on Ruth 1. Here's Pastor Cooper.
The book of Ruth begins with sorrow. A famine is devastating Bethlehem. And so a man and his wife, Naomi, take their two sons and journey to Moab. Sorrow strikes when Naomi's husband passes away. We read that the two sons then marry two Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. But sorrow strikes again when ten years later the two sons pass away as well.
No doubt this is not what Naomi had planned when she and her husband set out from Bethlehem those many years ago. I cannot fully empathize what that would be like or what all she must have felt, but I can imagine. I can imagine the waves of grief and the feelings of anxiety or heartache that must have befallen her. We all have found ourselves in a situation of sorrow, one that we did not expect. While I have not experienced sorrow and loss as Naomi did in our readings from Ruth 1, who of us has not felt alone or anxious for the pangs of grief?
But the book of Ruth is not about Naomi and the sorrow that she experiences. The book of Ruth isn't even really about Ruth. It is about Jesus and who He is when sorrow visits us. Naomi hears of the Lord's faithfulness to His people back home in Bethlehem and she decides to return there. Her two daughters-in-law plan to travel back with her, but she insists that they return to Moab and their own people. One daughter agrees and turns back. The other, Ruth, does not. In fact, she promises Naomi that, "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." This promise of commitment and selfless love is a powerful and almost unbelievable statement of devotion. And Naomi sees that she was determined to go with her, and so Naomi said no more.
Surely, traveling back to Bethlehem after all those years, widowed, having lost her sons, and with her young Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, in tow, was not what Naomi had expected. But God would use Ruth and her devotion and faithfulness to Naomi to not only provide physically for the two widows, but also to provide for all humankind. For Ruth meets a man, Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi. Boaz provides for Naomi and Ruth, showing them kindness and even marries Ruth with whom they have a baby, Obed, who just happens to be the grandfather of King David. And as we know from Matthew 1, Jesus, the One who has born our griefs and carried our sorrows (see Isaiah 53) comes from the lineage of King David, and therefore, Ruth.
In the midst of the sorrow of Naomi's life, God worked to provide in ways never expected or perhaps even wanted. In fact, consider that in our passage there is no mention that Naomi was even especially happy that Ruth promised to go where she goes. And yet God uses Ruth's faithful response to do a great thing. How many times has God provided for us in ways we did not at first appreciate or give thanks for? And so even when sorrow strikes and we cry out and feel as Naomi did, we cry out to God in faith, trusting that nothing, not even the tragedies and sorrows of life "can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (see Romans 8:38-39).
And for that we can also give thanks.
WE PRAY: Gracious God, in the midst of sorrow allow us to see and give thanks that You provide. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Cody Cooper.
1. Why do you think Ruth was so intent on remaining with Naomi?
2. What does the book of Ruth tell us about how God works in human affairs?
3. Were you surprised to learn that Ruth was one of the ancestors of Jesus? Why?
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