As I move into the second half of Ruth, although the focus is on the unfolding story of Ruth, my eyes are on Naomi. Back in chapter one our introduction to Naomi is of a woman who is in deep grief, overwhelmed with a sense of emptiness and bitterness and returning to a place she left because Moab holds nothing for her. Not only that, she is willing to return home a widow and return home with a widow in toe. Either Moab was no place for a widow and a widows life back home was better than a widows life where she was. She knows that a Jew is expected to care for a widow but at the same time, the prospects for a widow in any culture in that era an duties times is not the bets life, especially in a culture world where class and blessing is weighed out by how much you own and who you belong to. The sadness and bitterness I Naomi’s tone and language tells us a lot of where her heart and hope is at.
By the end of chapter 2 her language and demeanour has changed. ‘The is nothing I can offer you’ and ‘don’t call me Naomi call me Mara’ to ‘God has surely been faithful’. She. doesn’t stop there…something shifts in chapter 3 where she begins to move from recognising Gods faithfulness to taking advantage of his faithfulness. She goes from hope to strategise and working the law of redemption to her advantage.
There must have been some hope for Naomi to return to Bethlehem. There was no reason for her to return to Bethlehem unless she thought that it was a better option than where she was. How often do we remain in difficult places and stuck because ‘moving out’ is far too painful. Why do people stay where they are even though it is not a great place to be…because the pain of moving is far greater than the pain of staying. I know what t feels like to be stuck in Moab but not wanting to move it of Moab because it is far too painful. I don’t think this story was ever about Naomi not having hope because all along the way she has hoped for something better. But even in Bethlehem, she is at the mercy of her status and her grief. She and Ruth are widows, having to beg and glean in a field that is not theirs, at the mercy of what others can do for them and to them. There is so much providence in this story and Naomi can see it and sense it.
Chapter three is another chapter of hope but hope that helps her once again strategise for a better future. It is a chapter of action. Naomi and Ruth are beggars and widows stuck in a place that is hard and as Ruth continues to glean A shift happens in Naomi that moves her from receiving to strategising, Naomi can see God’s faithfulness and a door of opportunity. She is already a beneficiary of Ruth’s hard work and the goodness of God but can see that there is more. There is more to the story than where they are….and she must teach Ruth what to do. She become a conduit of blessing for their own lives because she moves from hope to strategy.
HOPE infuses her heart but it doesn’t remain as hope…it is connected to a plan. Hope recognises the reality that failure happens, success is not assured, the laws of physics don’t change and prudence is needed to discern when to persevere in — and when to pivot. She understands that Boaz is not a coincidence but a God factor in her story. Boaz is the opportunity for her and Ruth to break the stigma and cycle of their poverty and widowhood. Boaz is the possibility of their legacy and their story taking a different direction,
Naomi has gone from empty and bitter to hopeful.
This chapter is not just about hope but the motivation hope gives us and how it spurs us to move and activate our faith into action.
Hope is not enough.
Faith without works is dead.
Hoping Boaz will marry Ruth is not enough.Naomi is an opportunist. She takes advantage of the what she sees is God’s favour and strategises for the greatest advantage and works the law of redemption to her advantage.
I want to understand what it is that helped shift Naomi from empty to hope-filled, and from hope-filled to strategic.
If I am to nurture women who are empty, I can’t just rely on what I think will work…I want to know how to switch on their hope, feed their hope and even expect their hope to move from hope to strategy. Ruth is doing the he hard work but God is also blessing it and showing Naomi he is in it. Oh that my hard work will be blessed in such a way that it simply proves to the Naomi’s in my life that a God is faithful and good and that it ignites something in their hearts to connect with opportunity and strategies for a better future.
This story also helps me to look for the faithfulness in God over others stories. When I feel empty..there is nothing better than seeing the faithfulness and hate miraculous provision of over someone’s life to realise that I can take advantage of God’s favour and be a recipient of the outcome,
In a world where so many see their circumstance and the natural and see through the eyes of emptiness and bareness ..what is my role in helping bring hope…is it a good report, is it playing the role of Ruth and simply working my field and letting God bring the revelation of his faithfulness? Is it simply pointing to stories like this one and helping others see how God is faithful and helps us move just like Naomi.
In times when I can’t feel hope, is it because I need to see with different eyes?
Hope is not enough..but when it is tied to strategy and action, it can bring about significant shifts in my circumstances.
Hope and strategy and action bring about a shift in the story that helps me see clearly the path ahead for my own story. Look for the faithfulness of God, look for opportunity and work out what strategy will best bring about the faithfulness of abdominal to my outcomes.
I don’t want to be hopeful minus Strega…hope should move me to action…but informed action. Ruth trusts Naomi and that a picture we have seen Ruth do all along. Ruth could have fobbed Naomi off and ignored her but she chooses to pull Naomi into her story yet again.