The biblical book of Ruth begins like a Shakespearean or Greek tradgey. Nothing good happens; only problems and issues heaped upon a poor woman that has more problems and issues than she knows what to do with. And there seems to be no end in sight.
The story of Naomi does not start out well. In fact, it is a tradegy. Her nation experiences a famine. Her husband decides to drag her and her two sons from their home (possibly the only home they have ever known) to a a foreign nation. To add to this particular issue, Naomi is being dragged from the holy nation of Israel to that of their enemy, evil and ungodly Moab.
Things don’t get better any time for soon for Naomi, but that doesn’t destroy her faith in God. You would think that she would abandon her religion, give up on God after even this much (because so many have given up on God over less). But she doesn’t. When things get worse, she holds on and models for us all the kind of we all need to have.
“Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.” – Ruth 1:3-6
See? Things start bad and get worse. Everything seems to be on a downward slop for Naomi. I couldn’t imagine the emotional and physical toll that the deaths of your spouse and only children would have on you. Let alone the spiritual toll.
She is left with no husband, no source of income, no one to bring home the bacon. Her sons are gone, so she can’t lean on them for help. There are no social services, no food banks, no government stamps or anythingof that kind to help fill her cupboards. While she may have found something, some generosity from the people of Israel, she wasn’t in Israel. Moabites may not have been as generous as Israelites were, if those Israelites were obeying the law. There is no one to rely on for anything.
Except…God was working in Israel. God was providing for people. The famine was over in Israel.
At hearing that God was working and providing for Israel after the famine, Naomi moves. Despite all the terrible things that have happened to her, her husband dying, her sons dying, her leaving her home, her being abandoned in a foreign land, her having no way to support herself, she trusts God.
She knows that if she can get back home to Israel, God will give her food. She knows that God will provide. She knows that God has provided for her in the past, and He is able to do it again.
Even though she has no certainty, she trusts in God.
There is no guarentee. She heard something. It could be true, it could be false. There is nothing saying that she will get any of that provision when she gets back to Israel. Nothing saying that she will find food, find a way to provide for herself, or find someone that will bless her and give her what she is lacking. There is no absolute certainty for Naomi. No certainty that things will be bettter for her in Israel. The tradegy could continue for all she knows. This move from Moab back to Israel could be another chapter in problems and issues befalling her. Naomi has no certainty, except she knows that God is there.
God is there. That’s enough for her to pack up her life and go.
She trusts in who God is, who he has proven himself to be, so much that she will throw what little security and safety she has to the wind. And chases after God.
I don’t know if I have that kind of faith. I don’t know if I possess that kind of trust in God and who he has proven himself to be. But I do know that this is the kind of faith that I need. It’s the kind of faith that Scripture calls us to have in God.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” – Hebrews 11:1-2
Naomi was confident in God. Confident that God was a loving and good God, that he would provide for her daily needs. Though the world around her gave her no guarded of such provision or blessing, she looked to God and trusted him. For this, she is commended.
We need to have a faith like this. A faith where we are willing and able to pack up and move when God says go. A faith where we stand confident that He will meet our needs even when we have no guarantees.
HOW TO START TO HAVE FAITH LIKE NAOMI
How do we do that? How do we start moving towards a faith like Naomi’s? By remember who God is, and then leaning into it.
I don’t remember all the words to the hymn, ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus, but I sing the chorus to my youngest daughter all the time.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Sometimes, before we can take a step forward in faith, we need to look back. How many times has God provided for you in the past? How many times has God come through for you in ways that you couldn’t have imagined? How many almost disasters have you been saved from, near crises that you never had to endure?
I know in my life God has saved me from so many near financial disasters that I have lost count. Not that I’m swimming in cash or that I’m being a poor steward of my money, but God has over and over again, throughout the years, provided for me and my family when the money wasn’t there, when money won’t stretch as far as we needed it to.
And that is just finances. I’m not going to mention my family’s health and safety. The miracles surrounding our buying a home. Paying for our wedding. The list keeps building and I’m tryin got keep this blog short.
Looking back, I see God providing over and over again. The handprints of His grace make it so much easier to take a step of faith into an uncertain future like Naomi did. Not that it makes a step of faith a breeze or nothing at all, but to be reminded that God has proven himself faithful in providing in the past does make it easier to trust he will do the same in the future.
I’m sure Naomi did something similar. Looking over Israel’s history, how many times God stepped in and provided; it’s astonishing.
To have a faith like her’s, start by looking backwards to help you to move forward.
Naomi had a hard life. A lot of bad things happened to her, tragic things. But that wasn’t enough to destroy her faith or stop God from being who he was.
Naomi had a faith that was bigger than her present problems and issues because her faith was in a God much bigger than that. He had proven himself in the past, and he would continue to in the future.
Naomi took hold of that truth, the God is good, that He loves his children, that He seeks to bless them and provide for them, and Naomi stepped out in faith.
We need to have a faith like that. When we do, we will see the hand of God bless us and provide for us in all sorts of ways.
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This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.