Summary: Is the hand of God with you during good times, or maybe, God has brought you to terrible times as well. Why would the hand of God leave us in difficult times?
The right place at the right time.
Coincidence? Happenstance? Good fortune?
The wrong place at the wrong time.
Bad luck? Fate? Accidental?
When an amazing and wonderful thing happens in our life we say that the hand of God was certainly with us….does that mean that when something bad happens in our life that the hand of God is not with us?
Last week in chapter one of the book of Ruth we saw Naomi lose her livelihood and loose her homeland. We saw Naomi bury her husband and then bury her two sons. She is discouraged and outright bitter about life - and who can blame her? She is so pessimistic about the future, that she packs her bags and heads home to die. When she arrives home in Bethlehem, she is so downtrodden her friends don’t even recognize her. In the eyes of Naomi, she is a cursed woman.
Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth has come home to Bethlehem with her. Ruth could have stayed in Moab and started a new life, but instead, Ruth came home with Naomi and has pledged to stay with her, even in death. Understand, Ruth was married to one of Naomi’s sons for ten years, and after ten years of marriage she has no children. Having no children would be devastating to Ruth in the culture of the day. Ruth’s husband has died and left her without children. In the eyes of Ruth, she is also a cursed woman.
So together they walk the 70 miles from Moab to Bethlehem, alone. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem they set up house in Naomi’s old house, Naomi had left years before. There they are, two women at the end of their rope, two women without hope, two women that society would see as cursed.
Bethlehem was a small village, and would have had a population of no more than 200 people. Being a small village, everyone would have known everyone else, and most people would be related to each other. Certainly everyone would know Naomi. Certainly everyone would know her situation - I’m sure they all talked about it. Certainly the relatives were very aware of the circumstances of these two women.
How come no one arrives to help?
Did you notice that? Life has gone from bad to worse for these two women, and no one is there for them. No one. They are all alone.
How depressing is that? Even friends and relatives ignore these women. I mean things have become worse, since they arrived in Bethlehem. You would think the change in location would bring them some kind of hope. But there is nothing.
They need to eat, so Ruth sets out to find something to eat. The barley harvest is about to begin and so Ruth heads out to the fields with the hope of gathering some grain to eat. I want us to clearly understand right up front that the best Ruth can hope for, THE BEST Ruth can hope for is to come home with about two handfuls of grain. See, the best Ruth can expect is that she is able to bring home enough grain so that each of the two women can have one small meal for the day. Isn’t that incredible? Ruth is heading out to work from sun up to sundown so she can have one handful of grain to eat.
Honestly. Ruth has no future.
Let’s stop right here for a moment. Where is God in all this? This woman has made one of the most powerful statements of faith in all of Scripture (we saw that last week). This woman Ruth declared that she would follow God no matter what. She would follow God if things didn’t ever get better she would follow God even if it led to her death. This woman has a faith greater than any of us here today could ever expect to have.
You might expect that a faith like that would keep Ruth out of such a desperate situation. You would think that God would honor such a commitment like that. But, life doesn’t get any better does it? This woman is hungry, she is so desperate that she will work all day, at difficult tedious work, for so little food. For all intents and purposes, she is on a starvation diet. How much more on the edge can you get?
I personally have seen a number of people walk away from Christianity because life has become terrible - and it is hard to blame them - like it is hard to blame Naomi. I expect that you also have seen people walk away from Christianity when bad things have happened too. Maybe you are a person here today that has walked away from God at some point in your life because of something terrible, something rotten, something inexcusable that has happened in your life, and who can blame you?