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Summary: How should we respond when life falls apart?

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[To receive free sermons by email each week, please contact jonrmcleod@yahoo.com; for more, visit http://jonathan-mcleod.blogspot.com/]

WHEN LIFE FALLS APART

OBJECT LESSON: Jenga

How many of you have ever played the game Jenga? “You take a block from the bottom and you put it on top.” Each of these blocks could represent a day in your life. [One by one, put blocks on top] Each day you try to live the best you can. Each day you try to make wise decisions. Each day you try to obey God. But then there comes a day when life falls apart. [Tower falls down]

At some point in our lives, most of us will probably face a day when life falls apart. Maybe you have already faced a day like that.

[Introduce new series]

Ruth 1 tells the story of a woman whose life fell apart. Her name was Naomi. She was the mother-in-law of Ruth. Her story shows us that the hand of God is at work in our lives even during times of suffering and tragedy. There is still hope even in the darkest of days.

What should you and I do when life falls apart?

[Reading challenge & trivia question]

[Read Ruth 1]

The story of Ruth takes place “when the judges ruled” (v. 1). The days of the judges lasted from the death of Joshua to the coronation of Saul as king (approximately from 1380 to 1050 B.C.). If you want to learn more about this period of Israel’s history, read the book of Judges. The ending of the book goes like this: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25 NKJV). Out of the dark days of the judges comes the book of Ruth—a story full of romance, redemption, and hope.

But in chapter 1, Naomi and Ruth have no idea that their story will have a happy ending.

Naomi’s life had fallen apart:

• She had no HUSBAND.

• She had no SONS.

• She had no GRANDCHILDREN.

• She was ALONE.

Elimelech and Naomi had left Bethlehem to escape a famine, but in Moab Naomi lost her family. The only two people left in her life were her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. And she even tried to get rid of them! (Actually, I think she was trying to act in their best interests.) On the journey back to Judah, she urged Ruth and Orpah to return to Moab. (Useless information: Oprah Winfrey’s name was supposed to be Orpah, but her mother mistakenly wrote Oprah on the birth certificate. The name stuck.) In the end, Orpah went back to Moab, but Ruth clung to Naomi.

NAOMI’S RESPONSE

We often respond to life’s tragedies like Naomi did:

• “God is AGAINST me.”

“It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has gone out against me!” (v. 13b).

“Don’t hand around me! Bad things will happen!”

• “ I am BITTER.”

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter” (v. 20).

“Naomi” means “PLEASANT.”

“Mara” means “BITTER.”

“God has ruined my life!” At least she was honest.

• “My life is HOPELESS.”

“I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (v. 21).


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