When I was thirteen, I found myself bargaining with God on a hospital bathroom floor. My grandpa, who had always been so strong and resilient, was near the end of his life, and I wasn’t prepared to let go. I told God I would do anything to keep him here on this earth with me. I’d be better, I’d do better, I’d follow whatever instruction He gave. I was willing to do it all just to stop the pain of loss. And even after he headed to his heavenly home, life didn’t return to normal. When a part of you is missing, it’s hard to move forward. Guidance can be difficult to hear over the resounding reminders of grief.
Ruth and Naomi had suffered a great loss. Naomi had lost her sons while Ruth had lost her spouse. When the the ache of their deaths settled in, these women only had each other. They may have experienced their moments of overwhelming hurt, but we find them at the point of moving forward. Naomi and Ruth return to Naomi’s hometown. Ruth was given the option to return to her parents’ home and have a better chance at creating a new life, but she would not abandon the family she had found with Naomi. Her ultimate response to having her life completely change was to remain faithful to her obligation. Ruth lost her mate and her livelihood, but she did not resist the changes this brought into her life.
Ruth humbled herself to her new normal and remained obedient to her role as companion to Naomi.
And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter. ”
Ruth had cause to wallow in a pit of pity. Her husband was gone, she moved away from her family, and she no longer had the security she once knew. That’s a whole lot to process. But what does this admirable woman do? Ruth volunteers for day-long physical labor so that she and Naomi can have food to eat. She does not complain. She doesn’t stop to ask “why me?” Ruth does what needs to be done in order to live her life to the best of her ability.
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
When she wasn’t looking, God walked her into a better life. We don’t become useless vessels because our lives develop some cracks. We are still powerful and purposeful even when our hearts are aching. Instead of bargaining, wallowing, questioning, and doubting, Ruth presented herself as a servant and accepted that she was not above any calling given by God. From a secure wife to picking up scraps in the field, she carried herself with dignity and exemplified humility.
James 4:10 says, humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Some of the biggest doubts and setbacks pop up when we are in pain. It can be hard to trust God and to keep going when your world is shaken. But God needs you to keep going. He notices your hurt, but He needs your obedience even in the difficult times. When you accept the path He has provided for you, and you work to make the absolute most of it, God delights. He revels in your loyalty and strength. His heart breaks for us so many times each day, but He is forever faithful to us. He just asks the same in return.
So, go ahead, my daughter. Find your place in the world even when it’s broken. Work hard to make each situation the best it can be. Keep moving ahead because God cannot heal you unless you allow yourself to move further away from the center of your pain. Let the changes and unexpected losses in life mold you into a stronger person. A person that is prepared for the blessings and restoration of tomorrow.
Featured image by Alex Ronsdor