RECAP: GRIEVING WIDOW AND DEVOTED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW based on Ruth 1
We have all had times or seasons in our lives when it felt like nothing was going the way it should. We may have even had the sky is falling moments. When we are in those places, it is hard to see the faithfulness of God. We even, if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes blame God for the situation or even freeze him out. We ask God where he went in the midst of the trial, and we even wonder how those situations could ever be redeemed or restored.
Imagine how Naomi felt in the book of Ruth. She was in a miserable place, in a whole that left her completely broken and empty. She was:
1) In the plight because of circumstances beyond her control. Her land was suffering a famine, which was often a result of either testing or trial (think Joseph or Job) or, in most cases, a result of covenantal unfaithfulness as a nation to God. In Deuteronomy, the purpose of things such as famine was to inspire the nation to do some soul searching and correct that which has gone astray. But in Naomi’s case, when the famine came, her husband Elimelech (name meant God is my king) decided to take matters into his own hands. Instead of leading his family into a season of repentance or soul searching, he took his family to the land of Moab. Moab was seen as an enemy of Israel, who, through the assistance of Balaam (see Numbers 22-25) led Israel astray from devotion to God to a state of compromise. Many in Israel in the desert sold out their faith to assimilate with the pagan culture and got caught up in sexual immorality with Moabite women. Moab was associated with compromise.
In those days, women had no individual rights or freedoms. They had to submit to the authority of their father, or if they were married, to their husband’s authority and, if deceased, her son’s authority. Women could not own property on their own or conduct business on their own. So Naomi, despite her own faith, had to follow her husband to the land of compromise. Everything that transpired happened there!
2) Experiencing great personal loss. While in the land of compromise, her husband passed away. After ten years, then both of her sons also passed away. Now, she had no husband and no sons to provide a covering. At that moment she had lost everything. Her world came crashing down her feet. She had become collateral damage, felt abandoned by God, and cursed.
3) Lost. She had lost her way. Because she was in this state of personal hell, her faith in God was shattered. This can be seen in what she says to her two daughters-in-law: “The LORD’s hand has gone out against me,” “I am too old,” and “If I thought there was still hope for me.” She had forgotten all of the stories she had learned as a child of God’s faithfulness and had replaced it with discouragement, despondency, and defeat. This led to…
4) Bitterness and Anger. She became so angry with God, she pushed God and people away and wanted to change her name to Mara, which meant bitter. She even yelled at God: “I was full, but the LORD has made me empty,” and “The Almighty has brought misfortune on me.”
We really can’t blame Naomi, can we? She was stuck, by no fault of her own, in the predicament she was in. She was obedient, and still ended in disaster and lost everything. Some of us may have experienced that kind of loss too. But the good news is that this was only Ruth chapter 1–there is far more to the story! By the end, in Ruth 4, Naomi was fully restored! How did God bring about restoration from this very dark place? It was through the actions of Ruth!
Ruth first was dedicated to making the LORD her Lord. She was a Moabite woman, and unfair as it may be, the stereotype was that she was a loose woman. But instead of meeting the stereotype, she became fully devoted to the LORD. She forsook her family, which she could have returned to, and her ancestral gods to follow the God of Israel. The journey to Israel was risky and could have cost everything, especially because of the bad blood. But Ruth surrendered her life into God’s hands, trusting that even though she could not see, God would help lead her through. It was a deep commitment of faith!
Second, Ruth showed Naomi the true heart of God by refusing to leave her side. She remained faithful to the end. She would not leave despite Naomi’s insistence. She made the journey. Naomi needed food, so she went into the farmer’s field to pick up loose grain so there was something to eat. Naomi and Ruth needed a covering; little did Ruth know the field she gleaned belonged to Boaz, a kinsman-redeemer, who legally could claim Ruth and marry her. Ruth’s commitment and obedience led her to Boaz, led her to marriage, and then redeemed Naomi’s legacy and heritage with a child. That child was named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David. Naomi became the great-great-grandmother of King David, and in the line of the Messiah! Naomi was able to come back to hope and redemption in God again because of Ruth’s faithfulness and devotion to her. She truly showed the heart of God who never leaves us or forsakes us.
If you are in a dark place this morning, know God has not abandoned you. But also know your church family will be there right beside you to lift you up, even when you cannot see. Even when your world is crashing around your feet, you are not forsaken or abandoned; God has you!
Questions for Reflection
1) Have you been weighed down by personal loss or tragedy? Confess that to God, or call someone in the church and talk about it!
2) What circumstances are going on in your life right now that are beyond your control? Lay your cares at the throne of Jesus.
3) In times of trouble, do you trust Jesus to take you through? What adjustments might you need to make?
4) Why is it difficult to remain faithful when under pressure? How could encouraging friends or church family help?
This Sunday, Pastor Ryan will continue the series called “A Fresh Start” with the sermon titled, “Rebirth of the Faithful,” based on 1 Samuel 3:1-21. Israel had lost its way. How did God bring about restoration? What can we learn from Samuel’s call? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for May 10 – 16
May 10: Joshua 24:1-27 To have a fresh start, what is truly needed?
May 11: Judges 13:1-24 How did God provide a fresh start for Manoah and his wife?
May 12: Ruth 2:1-23 How did God provide for Ruth and Naomi’s fresh start?
May 13: Ruth 4:1-17 How did God provide for Ruth and Naomi’s fresh start?
May 14: 1 Samuel 1:-20 Why did Hannah need a fresh start?
May 15: 1 Samuel 2:12-26 Why was Israel in need of a fresh start?
May 16: 1 Samuel 2:27-36 How did God promise a fresh start?
This Week’s Events:
Sunday, May 15–Church Council Meeting after church
Sunday, May 15–Instachoir Picnic @ Wildwood Park, 5:30 pm
Thursday, May 19–Leadership Team Meeting, 7 pm
Sunday, May 29–Deed Signing
Sunday, June 5–Pentecost Sunday, Baptism & Summer hours begin
We will have a brief council meeting after church on Sunday, May 15. There are four items on the agenda: adopt a new official name for the church, approve the new constitution (needed for incorporation & non-profit legal designation), affirm a trustee, and begin the conversation on the color of new road signs for the church.
The Instachoir will have an anthem on Sunday, May 15. There will also be a picnic at the shelter in Wildwood Park at 5:30 pm. Please see Bill Wood’s email for details!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
What do you want to see at Beaver Creek? What are some ideas you have for the long-term growth of our congregation? Any outrageous outreach ideas? Please either email Pastor Ryan or write them down and place them in the brown suggestion box in the narthex. Dream big!
If you are interested in water baptism, please email Pastor Ryan in the next few weeks!
The Christian Education Team is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sandy Bennington (health)
Samantha Cooper (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Natalie Dodge (health)
Bill Eckard (health)
John Fix (addiction)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Melina Hoover (travel)
Darlene LaPrade (health)
Alma Long (COVID)
Mark Martin (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Torrey Meyer (well-being)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Norma Suter (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Tom Wilfong (health)
Shelvy Wittig (health)
Joyce Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek Church