Summary: Ruth. Pt. 1
LOVE THAT IS BETTER THAN SEVEN SONS (RUTH 1:1-18)
The biggest star of the 2002 World Cup was twenty-five years-old Ronaldo of the victorious Brazil team, the highest goalscorer and the comeback story of the tournament. When he was seventeen, he had his first taste of the World Cup as a non-playing reserve. Four years later Ronaldo was twice the World Player of the Year but the coronation never took place in France. Hours before the Brazilians took the field to contest the finals, Ronaldo suffered a violent seizure in the hotel. A player kept him from swallowing his tongue. The French humiliated Brazil and the dazed Ronaldo, 3-0. Some said it was physiological, others said it was psychological, but all agreed his performance was abysmal. He was a national villain, a Nike commercial bust, and a tournament afterthought.
Ronaldo suffered three leg muscle injuries after France. His first appearance lasted only seven minutes and the second, after a two years’ absence, was fifteen minutes. He barely made it to the first World Cup in Asia. He said with delight when Brazil made the finals against the Germans, “I don’t want to sit here and dictate to you the two years of suffering I had, but these days, every goal I score is a victory. Every time I enter the pitch, it’s a joy, an honor. I can say that my nightmare is over.”
Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in Japan, with Ronaldo scoring both goals, which tied him with Pele as the most prolific Brazilian goalscorer in World Cup history. Newspapers hailed his recovery as “maybe the greatest football story of them all,” but most said he never did return to form. Ronaldo said after the game, “Every time I step on a pitch, it’s a victory for me. Every time I score a goal, enter a ground to play with my team, is a victory. I can play, I can defend my country. This is a huge step for me. Even if I wasn’t world champion, I would be happy.” http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/01/sports/soccer/01SOCC.html
The three principal characters in the book of Ruth are Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. The book began with the down and out, from 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. She 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 (1:20).
What changed the bitter Naomi? What gave her hope in the midst of despair? What transformed her experience from pleasant to bitter, then back 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)