One of the most tender, touching stories of the Old Testament is the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi was an Israelite married to a man named Elimelek. During a period of severe famine, they moved to the neighboring land of Moab. In time, their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi’s husband, Elimelek, died. Within ten years her two sons died. Naomi decided to move back to Israel where she had family and friends in Bethlehem.
To Naomi’s surprise, when she announced her intention to move back to Bethlehem, her two widowed daughters-in-law insisted on moving with her. As they set out on the road to Judah, Naomi insisted, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.” Orpah eventually was convinced, but Ruth remained adamant. She would go with Naomi. She uttered those eternally famous words of our text, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”
What produced this intense bond between Ruth, a pagan Moabite, and Naomi the Israelite? It was more than the fact that Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law. It was also a matter of faith. Through her relationship with Naomi and her family, Ruth had been drawn to the God of the Israelites. “Your God will be my God,” she said. She had been converted to the true Faith.
Considering everything they had been through– death of their husbands, drought, famine- both women could have been bitter and cynical concerning life and God. They were no doubt sorrowful and disillusioned, but faith was not broken. God was blessing Naomi’s homeward decision. She would not return to Bethlehem empty-handed. She would be accompanied by a dear, trusted daughter-in-law. Ruth, too, had lost everything in Moab, most importantly her husband. But God was blessing her with a new start, a new life in Israel, a new family, a new and true church, and believing friends. Out of drought, famine, death, and disaster, God was orchestrating good and blessing.
God grant us grace to recognize His blessings in the midst of disaster. God help us to be truly grateful and thankful even in the worst of circumstances. Let our hearts be cheered by our godly friends and family, who will never forsake us, regardless of the circumstances. More than that, we know we have a God who is always with us, never to forsake us, always ready to hear our prayers and deliver us.