During the dark days of the Judges, it seemed to many that life in Israel was hopeless. Many of God’s people fled their difficulties and found jobs and lives outside the land of promise. It was a tacit statement that God had failed.
Among the immigrants were Elimelech and his wife Naomi. With their two sons, they moved to the land of Moab to begin a new life. The boys grew up, married Moabite girls, and life was good.
Until it wasn’t.
Elimelech and the boys died.
The women found themselves in horrible straits. Naomi was a foreigner. The girls had the helpless status of barren widows. Naomi’s advice was simple: ‘We’re all on our own. I’m going back to Judah’ (where hopefully, she could find help from family). ‘You return to your families and find new husbands.’
But one of the girls, Ruth, refused. She said to Naomi: “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 you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
It is one of the greatest vows of commitment you will read in scripture, spoken from a daughter-in-law to a mother-in-law. But notice this: Though it surely looked like the Lord had abandoned Naomi and her family, something from their lives informed Ruth that the God of Israel was still supreme, and her real hope (if there was hope at all) lay in sticking with the people of God – specifically, Naomi.
I wonder: On your darkest day, are you living so that others might find hope in God through you?