Summary: Don’t give into despair. You never know what great things God can do even with the worst of situations.
Out of the Ashes
Ruth 1:6-7, 19-21
Are you feeling like life can’t get any worse than what it is right now? Is it a struggle to remain faithful to God? Are you just hanging on by a thread and afraid that it’s going to break at any moment? Read the book of Ruth. Today I will give you the short version and why it can impact your life. God does great things for those who remain faithful to him.
I. When Everything Goes Wrong
1. When you read this story, your heart has to go out to this woman.
2. We first see Naomi being forces to leave her friends, family and home for a foreign land because of famine.
3. She, her husband and 2 sons travel to the land of Midian to find food and a chance to live.
4. No sooner had they arrived that her husband dies.
a) This was a great blow to her because in those days, men were the only hope for income and security.
b) The worst position to be in would be for a woman, alone in a foreign land.
5. Luckily, she had her two sons. However, after about 10 years both of her sons die.
6. Now her nightmares have begun. She was old, alone, in a foreign land and a woman. There was no hope for her. Things could not get any worse than what they are at this point.
7. She tries to convince her two daughter-in-laws to go back to their families and she would go back to her homeland to die.
8. These were good women and didn’t want to leave her alone, but Naomi was practical.
a) Why should all three of them die?
b) It wouldn’t change anything.
c) They were young enough to find new husbands and build a life again.
d) One finally leaves, but the other is determined to stay with her until the bitter end.
B. Ever felt like Naomi?
1. Bertrand Russell had this quote in his autobiography. If this doesn’t echo despair, I’m not sure what does. “We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness. But it is the voice of one drowning; an in a moment the silence returns.
2. There may be some of you who can identify with that feeling.
3. Finances, marriage, job, family… all of the above are falling apart and you are powerless to do anything about it.
4. Just like Naomi you are ready for people to call you Mara, because you feel God has made your life bitter.
5. I’ve been there and I would rather never experience that type of despair again.
II. God Rewards Faithfulness
1. Naomi and Ruth travel back to Bethlehem, unsure what life had in store for them.
2. At best, a difficult tenuous existence; at worse, well, they didn’t think things could get worse.
3. As they settled down in the town, Ruth went to the fields hoping to pick up the few bits of grain and other crops the harvesters had left behind.
4. God has ordered the Israelites to leave the edges of fields and dropped grain so the poor could gather them.
5. She worked hard all day long and brought back what little she could for Naomi and herself.
6. Boaz owned one of the fields she happened to be scrounging in and found out how hard she was trying to help her mother-in-law and her exist and was impressed with her loyalty to the older woman.
7. He made sure there was a little more than usual left behind so she could take care of Naomi and herself.
8. What she didn’t know was that Naomi’s dead husband was related to Boaz.
9. With this connection and the hand of God, things came together that he first helped her, then offered to marry her and take care of her and Naomi.
10. From despair, came hope. From hope came redemption. From redemption came their salvation.
1. Many people get mad and leave God when things get tough.
2. Rather than remaining faithful and seeing what God has in store for them, they return to the world bitter and angry.
3. God never promised us an easy life.
a) Sure we would all like everything to be smooth and rosy, but sometimes we must be faithful during the difficult times of life.
b) In fact God indicates that in becoming a Christian our life will probably get harder.
c) Satan wants to tear us down. Family may cut ties because of our faith. Promotions may be slow because God’s ethics are more important to us than good business.