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. Ruth 1, verses 3 through 5.
The Lord’s ancestors moved to a new land where the inhabitants didn’t love them, and then several of them died. What kind of cruel god allows that to happen? Answer: our God. He tolerates terrible things to occur in our lives that we might draw closer to Him, lean on Him, love Him, and grow in Him. Does not this same tragedy play itself out in our lives as well? Good people die every day and our media fawns, instead, about twerking celebrities, the latest political scandal, and how badly global warming isn’t happening. Don’t you think that, if there were mass media in Ruth’s time, the same thing would have happened? I do.
I know a young man, not even forty, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease: a death sentence. I’m sure you’ve heard about young mothers whose husbands never came home from war; you may even know someone. In Africa, today, thousands of young men will die of disease, starvation, and war, leaving behind young widows. In all of this, God stands by, watching it happen, yet providing comfort to us in the face of a world of murderous sin. We don’t have to put up with sin, but we do. We allow it. Through it, we can grow in God.
So it was with Naomi as well. Through no fault of her own, her husband died. We don’t know how old she was when this happened, simply that she was a mother. At some later time, her sons grew up and married foreigners. Perhaps this caused grief for Naomi; perhaps it would for you or I because it means a difference in cultures. Perhaps it didn’t; it’s another thing we don’t know.
What we do know is that, in days of old, sons provided for their widowed mothers. There was no Social Security survivor benefit, no Salvation Army. Naomi couldn’t rely on extended family, or the members of her congregation, or even on an Israelite patriarch. All she had were her sons, who started families of their own, and this must have been a feeling of security for Naomi…until, that is, her sons both died. Now, without means of support and with new widows of her own, Naomi was left with few good choices on her hands. The men who would provide for her were dead and gone, and Naomi found herself, even more, as a stranger in a strange and unfriendly land.
She had no idea she was never alone, that the Lord would soon provide for her, starting in the most unlikely person.
Jesus, thank You for my family. Thank You for providing people to love me.
Once again, read Ruth 1, verses 1 through 5.
Who provides for you?
Who do you provide for?
Have you ever lost a spouse or a child?