Your home town of Bethlehem is a big deal this time of year. We tend to focus on Mary and Joseph traveling there to be counted in the census and to give birth to Jesus in a stable.
Of course, long before Mary and Joseph made their weary way to Bethlehem, you and Ruth made a similar trek—though you were coming from Moab. What was on your mind when Bethlehem came into view?
When Abraham and Isaac left during a famine, they returned with more wealth. You came back empty and alone. Although—Ruth was with you. Why did you fail to mention her? Did she remind you of all you had lost? Since you were destitute, were you worried about having another mouth to feed?
Ruth was committed to sticking with you and with your God. By God’s grace, she not only provided your food but eventually—against the odds of being barren and a widow and foreigner—she provided you a son. Bethlehem seems to be the place for supernatural babies.
I’m writing, Naomi, because someone told me that I reminded them of you when you first came back to Bethlehem. In telling people to call you Mara, you based your identity on your losses. That’s easy for many of us to do. Great loss feels like the end of our story. However, this week a wise counselor reminded me that “God only tells redemptive stories.”
As true as our losses are, there is always a truer story.
You got a glimpse of that truer story the day Ruth came home with an excessive amount of barley. That massive pile of grain represented not only the kindness of Boaz but also the eternal loving-kindness of God Himself. God was clearly up to something good.
Once you had hope, you stepped up in leadership to provide a plan for Ruth to be provided for. Ruth stepped in in leadership to provide a way to show kindness to you through a plan that would continue your husband’s family line. You both launched these plans despite the glaring reality that Ruth had been barren for 10 years. Your faith set far more in motion than you could ever imagine.
The day your grandson, Obed, came into the world, your truer story was evident to all. God was not—and never had been—against you. Baby Obed was living proof that God cared deeply about turning your sorrow into joy.
As always—God was multi-tasking. While restoring joy to two desperate widows, He was also carrying on the line of Judah that would continue all the way to Jesus.
Thanks for reminding us, Naomi. As long as we have the grace of life—God is still at work writing our truer story.
“For unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6