Summary: Judges, Pt. 4
Sunday school teacher Tom and his family had been facing trials and tests that cause him to feel unworthy to be an adult Sunday school class teacher. Week after week he felt he was a total failure and kept wondering if each week was his last Sunday before announcing his resignation.
Then one Sunday a young woman stayed after class to speak to Tom. She was a friend of his family, so she knew what they had been going through. “Tom,” she said, “I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a much better teacher when you’re going through tough times.” (Our Daily Bread, January 16, 2003)
It’s been said, “A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.”
The three principal characters in the book of Ruth are Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. The book began with the down and out, the bad to worse and hard to swallow account of Naomi’s life. Naomi was the grief-stricken widow who had the misfortune of losing his two sons after earlier losing her husband Elimelech. The tragedy struck after she had sojourned in Moab for ten years to escape the famine in Israel. To compound her misery, her sons had not given her any grandchildren. She felt that life was a bitter pill, a cruel joke and a continuous torment. The widow took her circumstances very hard. The family of four from Israel was cut to one; from Naomi the wife, she was now Naomi the widow; from Naomi the pleasant, she was now Naomi the bitter (Ruth 1:20 (quickview) ).
What can turn around the life of a bitter person? What gives us hope in the midst of despair? What transforms one’s experience from bitter to pleasant again?
Love Lends a Hand
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me-even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons- 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has gone out against me!” 14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 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. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:11-18 (quickview) )
14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (Ruth 4:14-15 (quickview) )