of Creighton University's Online Ministries
August 19th, 2011
Roc O'Connor, S.J.
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
So, Naomi’s husband died after moving from Ephraim to Moab. And her two sons died, leaving two daughters-in-law who were not of the house of Israel. Naomi hears that the famine in Israel was broken and so advises Orpah and Ruth to stay in their own country. That’s when Ruth professes her loyalty to her mother-in-law.
Freeze-frame: Not one, but two widows are all who are left in this family. They are doubly-defenseless being widows without much of a bright future remaining to them. That is why, now that we pick up the story, when Naomi (whose name means “pleasant one”) returns to her village and her neighbors recognize her, she tells them to call her Mara (“bitter one”) because she has suffered so much loss.
Naomi’s pain is palpable. In just a handful of verses, the book of Ruth suggests so much. It even becomes difficult to tell whether her conniving to get Ruth married off is a ploy to simply get her out of the house or to actually act for the good of her daughter-in-law. Nonetheless, Naomi counsels Ruth how to “get her man.”
The rest of the story is that Boaz, a relative of Naomi, marries Ruth. They have a son named Obed who is the father of Jesse who is the father of King David.
What I find good and helpful about the rest of the story is to see how God continues to work in the midst of grief and loss. The Lord is not put off by our bitterness. Rather, God seems to turn things to the good through Naomi’s mourning and Ruth’s status as immigrant / refugee. What a deal!
Question: Has God so worked in your life so as to bring about a completely unexpected good? I don’t think this happens all the time. Or, better… Sometimes, we’re so caught up in the immediacy of difficult times that we haven’t come to that bend in the road that heralds a new and totally unforeseen destination. Where are you on the journey of faith?
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