Summary: Powerful biblical principles for starting over in life from the story of Ruth.
Don’t you love a good comeback? Don’t you love it when the underdog wins? It does our hearts good to see someone get back up after they’ve been knocked down by the tragedies of life. That’s the story of the book of Ruth.
The story begins with Ruth as a young woman. Her life seems to hold a bright future. She marries a husband with strong family ties. They begin building a life together. But in a few short years her family is demolished by death. Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law all three die. Ruth and two women she has no blood relation with have to start over.
I don’t think it does the Bible any injustice to read between the lines. We who have been through suffering and the death of those close to us know how Ruth felt.
Psychologists have noticed five stages grieving people go through: denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. We don’t know where Ruth was in this process when her mother-in-law announced she was returning to Bethlehem in Judah. But I imagine she hadn’t had enough time yet to feel like starting over.
You remember right away when you read this story the significance of Naomi’s home town. Bethlehem was the small town where the Savior, Jesus Himself, would be born! So right away your spiritual attenae go up.
This story then is not just about the redemption of one Moabite woman named Ruth. IT IS THE STORY OF THE REDEMPTION OF US ALL! Look deeper into this story and you see yourself!
The story of Ruth contains at least three powerful principles for STARTING OVER WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT:
1. FIND SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS HURTING AND BE A FRIEND TO HIM OR HER.
I know the Bible repeats this truth often but it is necessary because we are constantly being bombarded with the message of the world: "look out only for #1". The problem with that philosophy is that it never provides spiritual fulfillment. How ironic; what your heart desires won’t come from looking only after yourself; it comes from looking after the needs of others. We must love our neighbor as ourself. (Mt. 22:39) Now where do we get this in the story of Ruth?
Somewhere underneath the surface of this story there’s a motivation for Ruth staying with her mother-in-law and I think this may be the first clue. Surely her mother-in-law must have treated her like she was her own daughter. There must have been quite a bond of love between them for Ruth to go back with Naomi to a land she didn’t know anything about. I just don’t think it’s hard to see that, between people who love each other, COMMITMENTS are made. And boy did Ruth ever make a commitment! Look at verses 16 and 17 of chapter one again:
"And Ruth said, ’Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.’"
WOW! That’s commitment! That’s remarkable! It’s amazing! What would cause someone to make a commitment like that? I don’t think you can make a commitment like that thinking only about yourself. I think true godly commitments are made when we’re also thinking about the welfare and needs of others! That’s why I believe Ruth was motivated to go with Naomi. She knew Naomi had lost so much that she NEEDED A FRIEND.
That’s a powerful piece of information! It’s also one of the reasons God blessed Ruth in the end of this story. God USES and BLESSES people who don’t get all wrapped up in themselves all the time! And the interesting thing is, WE HELP OURSELVES OUT OF TROUBLE WHEN WE DECIDE TO HELP OTHERS OUT OF TROUBLE.
You see, we usually get a bad case of the blues when we’re focused on our self. Focus on meeting the needs of someone else and see if it’s not the best possible medicine for you! God made it that way on purpose. He wants us to be like Him. Always giving. Unselfish. Ministering to the needs of others. That’s where the joy in life comes from.
When you DON’T FEEL LIKE STARTING OVER, when you can’t get motivated, find a hurt and heal it. Find a need and meet it. Find a fellow pilgrim who is discouraged and try to give them comfort.
The second powerful principle for STARTING OVER WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT...
2. SINCE YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE RISKS IN LIFE, TAKE SOME FOR GOD!