But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates me and you.” (Ruth 1: 16-17)
Ruth, a small book in the Bible, consists of only four chapters, but the message it delivers speaks volumes. We can learn a lot from Ruth’s example of faithfulness.
In the opening chapter of the book of Ruth, we see that Ruth was a woman who had been thrust into a harsh season of life. Her husband had died. Ruth makes the decision to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, rather than returning to her own people. Instead of choosing the easy way, she chose the hard road.
Naomi probably wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. Having experienced the great loss of her sons and her husband, she referred to herself as being bitter. Have you ever dealt with someone who was bitter and angry? It would have made more sense if Ruth ran the other way, but out of love and devotion, she followed Naomi.
Not once do we see Ruth complaining about her mother-in-law. She was committed to being there for Naomi in her time of need. We don’t see a bit of selfishness in Ruth. Instead, we see a woman who was selfless and loved unconditionally.
Ruth was also a hard worker. She gleaned in the fields to gather food for Naomi and herself. Ruth could have chosen to live her life as a victim of bitter circumstances but she didn’t. Rather than complaining and worrying about how they were going to make it in a time when it was extremely hard for women to provide for themselves, Ruth worked diligently.
Ruth was faithful and trusted in God’s provision and protection. She never complained about how rough her life was, and we don’t see her throwing any pity parties either.
Ruth also listened to Naomi’s advice. She knew wisdom came with age, and she did not ignore the counsel of someone older and wiser. She wasn’t quick to do things her way. She willingly accepted Naomi’s guidance.
Ruth lived out her faith and others took notice as we see in the following passage of scripture:
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband- how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2: 11-12)
Because of her faithfulness, Ruth’s story has a happy ending. Boaz married Ruth, providing her with financial security and a future inheritance. Naomi’s sorrow was lifted as she received the blessing of a grandson to fill her aching arms.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi, “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he became famous throughout Israel! He will sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you, and is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. (Ruth 4: 13-15)
And that’s not the end of the story. Ruth, a foreigner from Moab, became the great-grandmother of the most celebrated king in Israel, King David, an heir to the very throne of God. God can bring astounding conclusions to stories of heartache and suffering.
What can we learn from the book of Ruth? We should choose to serve others rather than follow our own selfish desires. We should commit to being faithful, even when it’s not the popular choice. We should be obedient to God and trust him when life gets rough. We don’t know what amazing work he might be doing in the midst of our heartache and suffering.
Ruth is a wonderful example of how God loves to redeem ordinary woman for His extraordinary purposes. We can rejoice today, because we have a redeemer, Jesus Christ, who will rescue us from every bitter and dismal circumstance we encounter.
What dismal circumstances are you facing today? What choice will you make today to walk by faith and trust God for the outcome?