The majority of the book of Ruth is a love story during a time that many of us can’t relate to today, meaning, the majority of us are not gleaning among the harvesters of a field, or threshing and winnowing barley – don’t worry, I had to Google several of those terms as well. One major point that is relatable right now, in this very moment, is what is stated in the opening verse:
“In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land.” (Ruth 1:1 NLT).
Now, you are probably wondering how that situation is similar to today. While hunger is a very prevalent problem in our world, there is no famine blanketing our country. However, I beg to differ.
Today is March 14, 2020 and our entire world is facing a very threatening situation. Not downplaying this real problem, we are also facing a “sanitizer famine.” It sounds funny, but it’s true. Why? Because amongst this horrible pandemic of the coronavirus – which has taken the lives of thousands in Italy, China, and other parts of the world- society is in full blown panic mode.
People are hoarding every type of Clorox Wipe, Purell Hand Sanitizer, and antibacterial soap that’s possible. While I do agree that proper hygiene is important for not spreading the virus, the whole madness of this period in our lives made me step back and reflect after reading that first verse in the book of Ruth.
A severe famine. Food famine. Could you imagine what it would be like to not have food on our grocery shelves? Forget soaps, cleaners, toilet papers, and medicines, I’m talking about food. What our bodies need in order to function on a daily basis. Fuel for survival.
Now, back in the time of Ruth, a famine was even worse than it would be now because there were no importers, grocery stores, or food supply chains. Nope. There were only their fields and the food they planted and harvested.
In fact, the famine was so bad that people were forced to scatter from Israel and move to other parts where there was some food. Forget being quarantined at home, how about having to leave your home?
One family in particular decided it was time they had to move in order to live, and left their home in Bethlehem and venture to the countryside in Moab. While this family lived in the country, the two sons married and the wife of one son was named was Ruth. Unfortunately, all the men in the family ended up dying, and eventually Ruth agreed to accompany her mother-in-law back to Bethlehem because they heard the people had food.
What I love about this story starts now! Upon returning to Bethlehem, Ruth had no choice but to source food for her and her mother-in-law. I could imagine she was now well equipped in finding food since she had been fighting for food for years now. Let’s just say that she wasn’t scared to get her hands dirty, and that’s exactly what she did.
“So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters.” (Ruth 2:3 NIV)
In case your wondering, the term glean means to collect or gather.
Her plan was working well until the owner of the land came to greet everyone. He not only saw her and knew who she was because there had been talk amongst the locals about her arrival, but he started to fall in love with her. The property owner had compassion on her and her mother-in-law because he knew their family situation. He knew they were two widows just trying to survive.
He not only fed the two women, but he ended up purchasing their land in order to maintain the integrity of their family. As a result, he married Ruth.
This is the cool part. Because of that famine that happened years ago, the family moved and one of the sons married Ruth. Even though both sons died, Ruth lived, journeyed back to their hometown, married the property owner, and the two of them had a son named Obed.
Now, you’re probably really wondering the point of this story. Here it is…Obed (their son) had a son Jesse. Jesse had a son David, and generations later (from Ruth’s lineage), came Jesus. Our King and Savior.
So, even though famines, natural disasters, viruses, illnesses, and other evil happens in our world, which were NOT part of God’s original plan, He is an awesome God that can make good out of every negative situation. Even if we can’t see it. In fact, it’s often times that we can’t see it that God’s working.
Very similar to Ruth, she never got to see the fruit she was intricately playing a part of – the birth of Jesus – but thanks to that ONE decision of leaving her hometown in Moab to travel to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law where she then met the love of her life and had a baby. Granted, her happy marriage was probably a blessing to her at the time, but there was still so much GOOD that came out of her original bad situation.
Think about it, a famine, then your husband dies, and then you leave your family to go somewhere where you’ve never been before.
I just pray that we can all learn a little bit from the story of Ruth.
While many of us are scattering like sheep to stock up on groceries, or complaining about having to stay at home for many days, can you trust that God will make good out of this situation? Even though we are in the heat of it and can’t see it?
Can we be like Ruth and glean from our life experiences, and come out stronger and bolder knowing everything will be woven together in God’s perfect plan?
In other words, are we feasting our eyes on what is in the store now, or what is in store for us later?