Ruth 1 through 4:12
The book of Ruth is one of my favorites. Even though it has a lot of grief and sorrow, it reveals the responsibilities of the kinsman redeemer. Most often I have focused on Ruth, her loyalty to her mother-in-law’s God and her submissive response to what Naomi tells her to do.
Yet today, Ruth 1:19 caught my attention. “….When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.”
While we don’t know exactly how long Naomi lived in Moab, it was more than ten years.
Her little boys grew up into young men.
Her husband died,.
Her sons took wives from Moab.
Her sons died, bonding her with these young Moabite women in the sisterhood of widowhood.
In our modern era of instant communication, it is difficult to imagine that the women of Bethlehem hadn’t heard about the tragedies in Naomi’s life. It appears that they didn’t know of her devastating losses.
But they remembered Naomi. For all the many years that Naomi was in Moab, the women of Bethlehem still spoke of Naomi, who went with her husband and young sons when the famine was intense.
They remembered Naomi with joy. They celebrated her return, happy to have her in their neighborhood again.
But Naomi’s experience had changed her from a joyous, fun-loving young bride and mother, to a bitter, cynical widow. She had given up on life and had come home to die. Or a place to stay bitter and withdrawn.
But bitterness cannot last long when it meets the impact of genuine love and compassion. Before long, Naomi is orchestrating a way to introduce Boaz to her daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Perhaps it would have gone like this anyway. But the women of Bethlehem, with their warm encompassing welcome, “greased the wheels”. Their love and attention gave Naomi the willingness to take a chance again.
After life’s difficult, painful journey, looking to the future with hope takes a transformation. God is love, but we are his hands and his feet, his ambassadors of love.
In what ways are you extending a warm, compassionate welcome to people that come into your life?