Summary: In Ruth 1:19-22 we see a New Beginning moving from a 1) Total Loss to a 2) Total Gain.
The chalk cliffs of Beachy Head on England’s south coast are the British answer to the Golden Gate Bridge: a place of beauty and stillness that has a terrible allure, both practical and aesthetic, for suicidal people. Neil and Kazumi Puttick, a married couple jumped to their deaths on the evening of May 31. The Putticks were the parents of a little boy named Sam who, at the age of 16 months, suffered a high spinal injury in an auto accident and was left quadriplegic, unable to breathe on his own. On May 26, five-year-old Sam was diagnosed with meningitis, and doctors, certain there was no hope of recovery, let the Putticks take him home. He was declared dead on Friday. Neil and Kazumi, quietly turning aside inquiries from friends, composed a long note, bundled up their child with a selection of his favourite toys, made the long drive from Wiltshire to East Sussex and stepped off into oblivion together, as a family.
The Putticks were, by all accounts, reasonable, good-natured people. Were they in their right minds when they decided that life without Sam was no longer worth living? Other bereaved parents will perhaps be the last to second-guess their decision; but then, other bereaved parents have had the courage to go on. (A Leap Too Far. Colby Cosh, National Post. Published: Tuesday, June 09, 2009) http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=44bfb644-babc-4ec9-b8d9-260ee3f3b1b5&p=1
The death of a loved one is one of the most tragic events in a survivors life. In the case of Ruth and Naomi, The two widows probably visited the three graves of their loved ones for the last time before leaving Moab. Then they committed themselves to the Lord and set out to begin a new life. It would be interesting to know what Naomi and Ruth talked about as they journeyed from Moab to Bethlehem. Did Naomi give her daughter-in-law some basic instruction in the Law of Moses? Did Ruth ask questions about the Jewish faith, the Jewish people, and her new home in Bethlehem? We wonder what kind of answers Naomi would have given since she was a bitter woman with a faltering faith in the God of Israel.
Behind the scenes of their journey is God’s providential protection. A trip from Moab (at least 60–75 miles) would have taken about 7–10 days. Having descended about 4,500 feet from Moab into the Jordan Valley, they then ascended 3,750 feet through the hills of Judea (MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Ru 1:19)
• Here are two women who have no means of defense, traveling between two great regions without being accosted.
When we are in the middle of grief, it is most difficult to think clearly. Emotions run though our system. Coming to understand who God is and how He operates before traumatic circumstances occur, enable us to live a life of purpose and have a faith that is anchored to Christ, which is able to survive the most dreadful storms.
In Ruth 1:19-22 we see a New Beginning moving from a 1) Total Loss to a 2) Total Gain.
1) First, Naomi & Ruth’s New Beginning moving from a Total Loss. Ruth 1:19-21
Naomi had been away from home for ten years, and the women of the town were shocked when they saw her. (In v. 19, the pronoun of “they said” is feminine.)
Ruth 1:19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, "Is this Naomi?" (ESV)
Rather than make Naomi happy, familiar surroundings and old friends made Naomi’s distress more intense. We can understand why. Going back home after the death of a loved one is likely to make us feel our loss. Our home seems so empty, the silence deafening. Suddenly we are weighed down by grief, for the one thing that is missing—our loved one—is what made the house “home.” For Naomi, who had left Bethlehem with a husband and two sons, the return brutally drove home the extent of her loss (Richards, Lawrence O.: The Bible Readers Companion. electronic ed. Wheaton : Victor Books, 1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996, S. 175).
Naomi’s return was an uncommon occurrence. The whole town is really a figure of speech in which the designation of the whole stands for a part. That is to say, one speaks of “the whole town” when in reality one means only a large part of the inhabitants of the town. In this case, the whole town means the women of Bethlehem. (Waard, Jan de ; Nida, Eugene Albert: A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Ruth. 2nd ed. New York : United Bible Societies, 1992, S. 19)