A story of redemption, love, hope, and restoration
We’ve looked at the character of Naomi, both her exemplary traits and those not so desirable. Now, before we get into the person of Ruth, let’s go back to the very beginning of this narrative.
“In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.”
So there was a famine in Israel. Not too surprising, since the days of the judges were filled with seasons of unfaithfulness to God and subsequent drought. However, it is interesting to note that this famine included the area of Bethlehem whose name means “house of bread.” It would be like America’s heartland or California’s Central Valley, two major food-producing areas, being unable to grow and harvest crops. In short, there was a severe lack of food throughout the whole country, and a family from Bethlehem, a people accustomed to plenty, were stressed out by the lack of provisions.
So in their season of trouble, what did Elimelech’s family do? Did they look to God for help and provision? No. As mentioned in the last post, they went to a foreign land looking for help and handouts. With the 20/20 vision of history, we point fingers at Elimelech for being so foolish as to forsake the God of Israel for mere bread. However, how often do we act exactly like this man of small faith from Bethlehem?
Throughout our lives we will encounter seasons of drought and famine in our spiritual walk. They are inevitable and unavoidable. Some are brought on by sin and separation from God on our part, but others are allowed into our lives to test us and refine our faith. No matter the type of famine, the question is, how do we respond during these difficult seasons? What is our response and interaction with God when all seems hopeless and lost?
Elimelech got in trouble because he was more concerned about his physical well being than his spiritual one. As the provider of his household and sole breadwinner, his worries and concerns about daily sustenance were not unmerited. However, he forgot that at the end of the day, God was the ultimate Provider. So as Elimelech, in his own strength, looked for solutions to his problem, he found alluring promises of refuge and food from the secular nation next door, and he acted on them. He packed his bags and his family, and forgetting God’s command not to go to other nations for help, he moved to Moab and settled there. Life was good, problems were seemingly solved, and he and his family had no more worries about food. But was this the right choice? Was this really the answer to their problems?
We also can join Elimelech in his foolish mistake of looking to the world for help. Whether we are walking through financial hardships, loss of a loved one, physical trial and affliction, divorce, or any other type of difficult situation, when God’s blessings seem so far away and our lives feel dry and deserted, we have two choices: 1) trust God that He knows what He’s doing and will bring beauty out of the ashes, or 2) look to the world for answers, distractions, or comfort. Elimelech chose option two and it ended up bringing death to both him and his two sons. Whereas Job, a man placed in an even more difficult situation, chose option one and experienced a personal encounter with the Almighty God and was doubly blessed at the end of his trial.
So now the question is…are YOU experiencing a season of famine and drought in your life? If so, how are you handling it? Are you looking to the world for provision, comfort, and sustenance? Or are you looking to God the Giver of all good things and Provider of life and eternal food?
For those of us not going through a season of famine right now, let us prepare for the ones that will come by remembering this valuable lesson from the family of Elimelech. And may all of us, at all times and in all circumstances, look to our heavenly Father to provide all that we have need of, remembering that…
“In famine HE [God] will redeem you from death.”