Up until this time, we’ve been focusing on the book of Judges throughout this series. Today, as we prepare for Christmas, we will shift to another book that took place in the same time period: the Book of Ruth.
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelek, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5 NIV)
Naomi and her daughters-in-law were facing a very difficult situation. They had all lost their husbands. That was bad enough. In their day, though, there was an added problem: the land and the family name were passed down through the men. While Naomi still had the land that her husband possessed, it would have been passed down as an inheritance to her boys. Now that she does not have any boys, the land will be lost to whomever takes it. It will stay in the tribe of Judah, but her land and Elimelek’s family name will be lost forever. When Naomi dies, the daughters-in-law will have no place to stay and no way to support themselves. So, Naomi sends them back home.
"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. May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband." (Ruth 1:6b-9a NIV)
The two daughters-in-law begin to protest, but Naomi insists. They have a better chance of survival, even thriving, if they go back to their birthplaces and find other husbands. That way, they will have means for living and even passing family heritage down from generation to generation. Orpah finally gives in and goes back home.
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18 NIV)
Ruth was faithful to Naomi. Ruth was willing to be faithful to a God, a culture, and a people that she did not understand yet. Ruth knew that we face struggles in life better together.
How about you? Do you have people you turn to as friends, family, or Church family when you face struggles in life? Do you face struggles alone or do you agree that we face struggles better together?