Summary: This is a narrative style sermon of finding hope in life’s troubles.
"Finding Salvation through Tribulation."
Comfort: Good Choices in Troubled Times
Ruth 1:1,2,11-13, 16-18, 20,21; 2:8-12; 4:8-10, 14-17
Today I want to share with you a story about three women and the choices they make.
(Read Ruth 1:1,2)
Forced to leave their home in Bethlehem because of the famine. Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and two sons, journey about 80 miles to the lands of Moab far away from family and friends.
Along the road of life we make many choices some good and some bad. When circumstances beyond our control bring tragedy into our lives, once again we must make a choice. It is how we deal with life’s tragedies that determine if our faith in the Lord will survive. Yet it is that faith in our God and the love of Christ that can help us through those deep valleys of painful tragedies that we face.
I. Dealing with Tragedy
Sometime after arriving in the land of Moab, Naomi’s husband Elimelech, dies. What a painful moment in Naomi’s life, to loose her husband. A man in whom she cared for and shared her life with for many years.
In biblical times a women depended on her husband or sons to provide for her. Without them she was forced to beg on the streets and rely on the kindness of others. Much as we have seen in modern day Afghanistan under the Taliban rule.
Yet Naomi is fortunate that she has two sons to care for her. It is uncertain the timing of events as the 10 years given in the passage can mean 10 years after Elimelech’s death or 10 years after they arrived in Moab. But during that time in Moab, Naomi’s two sons Mahlon (which means sickness) and Kilion (which means vanishing);
[Imagine naming you child sickness; now vanishing I can see, especially when you pass the toy section of Walmart.],
Both men end up marrying Moabite women. Mahlon married Ruth and Kilion married Orpah. Although this is not forbidden in the Israelite culture, none of their descendents up to the 10th generation would be allow to worship with the other Jews.
Once again tragedy strikes Naomi’s family, both her sons died without any heirs to the family name. Naomi, torn with grief and despair, unable to cope with what has happened. Having lost first her husband, then now her two sons, she decides to return to Bethlehem. How often when tragedy hits, our hearts and minds return back to those places where we knew happier times. Both Orpah and Ruth, now widows, followed Naomi out of town, neither woman questioned their duty to follow their mother-in-law. (Read Ruth 1:11-13)
1. Blaming Yourself
-Naomi says the God’s hand has gone out against her. She feels she is being punished for having left her homeland, having abandoned her people.
-Often when tragedy occurs the first person we blame is ourselves
-If only I had been there, If only I had done this or that,
-If only I had stayed back in Bethlehem this all would have never happened.
-We make ourselves responsible or some how deserving of the fate which has befallen us.
-Some how it seems that God doesn’t love us, we must have done something wrong to deserve this tragedy in our lives.
-Listen to what Jesus say of the blind-man near the pool of Siloam
(Read John 9:1-7) There was no blame to be laid.
-Sometimes things happen for a purpose which we might not yet see.
2. Blaming God
-Later in the story of Ruth we see that Naomi’s anger turns toward God.
(Read Ruth 1:20,21)
-Often when we are faced with tragedy we move through a cycle of emotional responses in an attempt to deal with what has happened in our lives.
-This is perfectly normal, we should not be afraid or shamed to feel anger, grief, or remorse.
*The first and only time I ever saw my dad cry was at the funeral of my great-grandmother.
-It is okay to cry, even for us tough guys.
-The danger however is when we become trapped in one of these emotional responses and do not move on with our lives.
-You see it is okay to be upset with God for a time.
-Like Job we too may question God and then God brings us understanding.
-Like Jacob we may find ourselves wrestling with God, (Gen. 32:23-30)
-and as God dislocated Jacob’s hip, we too may feel pain,
-but if we hold on to God like Jacob then we too will find victory
-victory that comes from understanding God’s purpose
-often what we see as evil is but a part of a greater good being played out in our lives.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of you faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4