Summary: There is a common experience for every person in all nationalities andcultures. Everyone experiences stress. By God’s grace and making wise choices we can turn stress into strength.
“Turn Stress Into Strength”
Ruth 1:1-22, 4:13-17
There is a common experience for every person in all nationalities and cultures. We all experience stress. We all have to learn to live with stress. The highest times of stress in a person’s life include:
Death in the family
Starting a new job
Moving to a new location
The book of Ruth is about how a family learned to find the good side of stress and turn stress into strength. This family had to deal with the highest stress factors: death of family members and moving to a new location.
Elimeleck and Naomi his wife and their two sons moved from Bethlehem to Moab a trip of 100 miles taking 5-6 days of travel. The family made the move because of a severe famine in the land of Judah.
During their ten year stay in Moab Elimelech died and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion married Moabite women, Orpha and Ruth. At the end of the ten year stay both Mahlon and Kilion also died.
Naomi heard that the famine in Judah had ceased and the land of Judah was producing good crops again. As a single woman in Moab Naomi had no way to support herself so she decided to travel the 100 miles back to her homeland in Judah. Naomi wasn’t sure how secure her future would be in Judah so she encouraged her daughters to stay in Moab and find husbands to provide for their needs.
Orpha decided to stay but Ruth made the commitment to travel with her mother-in-law and said: “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you life. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
In the midst of personal tragedy and stress – death of their husbands, and moving to a new place – Naomi and Ruth ventured out by faith and trusted God for their future.
If someone tells you they are so spiritual and have so much faith they never experience any stress or tension, don’t believe them. Jesus said in (John 16:33), “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” As long as we live in this world we will experience stress and tribulations. Our hope is to turn the stress into strength.
Princeton Research Associates, reported that 65% of those polled said they feel great stress at last one day a week. That compares with 55 % in 1983. To control stress 82% watch TV, read, or listen to music, 76 % talk to a spouse, parent or close friend, 69 % play sports or go for a walk, while 40% smoke or drink alcohol and 36% go shopping.
Ruth had to face the kinds of tension and stress that would have blown most people out of the water. First of all she was a woman in a culture that didn’t treat women kindly. A Jewish man’s prayer in the morning would often be: “God, I thank you that I was not born a slave, a gentile, or a woman.” Ruth was born in Moab. The law of Moses said that the Moabites were to have no place in the land and life of Israel. Then both her husband and her brother-in-law died suddenly. She was a widow with no visible signs of support. To make matters worse her mother-in-law was moving back to her home country of Judah.
When we go through times of stress the experience often pushes us back to basics. We ask, “What is really important in life?” “What things can I do without?”
In Judges 7, God assisted Gideon as Gideon confronted the tensions and pressures of battle to eliminate the “nonessentials” for battle. Gideon did not need to be encumbered with several thousand soldiers bound by fear or the thousands whose physical needs distracted their attention from the enemy. With only 300 men Gideon subdued Israel’s enemies and the land enjoyed peace for 40 years.
Moses learned from his father-in-law Jethro the value of delegation to lower stress in his life. Moses was trying to serve as judge for thousands of people on a daily basis from morning to evening. His level of stress was unbelievable. He learned the art of delegation and allowed others to share in the joy of service.
As a church we are committed to the concept of team leadership. We want teams working together in our Sunday school and Christian life classes. We want teams involved in lay ministry and pastoral care. You can help our church go forward by joining a team. Next Sunday we will have our annual sign up for your participation in various ministries in the Willow Vale Church.