Bitter Pills and Hard Blows
What if your pain is actually kicking you towards your destiny?
Today, there is worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in which many have lost loved ones. Many persons are crippled by fear, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
What if you lost your spouse, brother-in-law and father-in-law and had to leave your homeland to live among people who are traditionally enemies of your nation, would you be willing to do so? Would you still have hope? Would you sacrifice everything to take care of a mother-in-law who had become bitter because of multiple losses? Would you volunteer to do the menial labour required to take care of another in your grief?
Such were some of the adversities that Ruth, the young Moabitess faced fearlessly and resolutely in a foreign land. Her mother-in-law tried to dissuade her, but she would not be daunted. Many often speak of Ruth’s faithfulness, but I will focus on her fearlessness in the face of adversity. Ruth was unafraid to glean in the field of a foreigner.
She did not prostitute herself or go begging in her poverty. She was not looking for handouts but was willing to work hard. She was a woman of noble character. Adversity did not make her bitter. Adversity did not close her bowels of compassion. Adversity even brought her into a right relationship with God, and I always marvel at the time she came to faith in God.
After 10 years of observing her mother-in-law Naomi despite Naomi’s current bitterness, she was attracted to Naomi’s God. She knew enough about Naomi to still love her back into pleasantness. Ruth was determined to help Naomi get her smile back. Her fearlessness in the face of adversity caused her to find favor in the eyes of someone great. Her fearlessness in the face of adversity resulted in a change in her circumstances and those of her mother-in-law.
Fortunately for Naomi, God’s hand was not against her. God was orchestrating a plan to make her part of the greatest story ever told. Although Naomi felt as if she had no more use because of her age and stage (she was no longer a wife or a mother and a poor old widow), God was not through with her yet, and neither is He through with you.
Naomi was wrong! She had not returned home empty. She had returned with Ruth, the one whom God would use to reverse her state of bitterness. It was Naomi’s wisdom that led Ruth to find a new husband, the wealthy and influential landowner of noble character named Boaz. It was Naomi who advised Ruth how to approach him and to make her request known.
Perhaps if Naomi never had a husband or sons, she would not have been familiar with the ways of men. She perhaps would have been unfit for the role of matchmaker. In so doing, Naomi found purpose and hope again.
Furthermore, through Naomi, God’s plan to save humanity was further fuelled. Later on, Naomi became a caregiver to Ruth’s son, Obed, whose grandson became Israel’s second king. In other words, this bitter woman became part of Israel’s royal family because of the role she played after her losses.
Naomi was able to overcome her bitterness by seeking to help and bring comfort to someone else who had suffered loss. She was not the only one grieving. All the persons Naomi lost were connected to Ruth in some way. Ruth, too, needed comfort; and when Naomi took the focus off herself and her loss, she found purpose and her joy was restored.
At the end of the story, the women in Ephratah said Ruth was better to Naomi than seven sons. She had not returned home empty but fuller! One of the ways to overcome bitterness is to seek the welfare of others who are hurting. In so doing, you can become sweet again. If you are bitter, it’s time to seek out the welfare of another and get back your sweetness.
If you faint in the face of adversity, your strength is small (Proverbs 24:10). How amazing it is to see how Ruth’s fearlessness altered the destiny of many! I don’t believe Ruth became fearless overnight. I believe this is a quality she developed over time. We, too, can develop this quality. This is an important challenge for us all.
Therefore, I ask: whose destiny will be altered by your fearlessness in adversity? Someone’s destiny is dependent on your fearless attitude in adversity. Therefore, be fearless and resolute. Don’t faint and don’t fail them.
1. What difficulty are you currently facing?
2. Do you feel like Naomi, like God’s hand is against you?
3. Can you look beyond your pain to help someone in this season?