I have watched tragedy turn wounded hearts sour. What once was sweet and hopeful became bitter. I get it.
I’ve cried those bitter, angry tears grasping to get it, to accept it, and grow deeper because of it. The question ‘why’ wrecks you. Yet we verbalize our questions as it echoes back at us mockingly.
“Who is going to rescue me now?”
God will. He always does. But, sometimes his answer and provision feel delayed.
I have always been captivated by the story of Ruth and Naomi. Maybe it’s the mentoring-mothering connection and that at different parts of this story these women take turns nurturing one another. Maybe it’s because it is about two women from different generations who desperately need each other, but only one of them seems to know it at first. Sometimes the people we need the most are the people we try to push away when our hearts are hurting.
In Ruth 1:19 the wounded widow returns home without sons, without her love, and without hope for provision. Naomi’s pain left her almost unrecognizable, yet her people saw traces of the woman they used to know. She went out full and came home empty. (v. 21) But, she did not return alone. Clinging to her side and the God she served; stood the devoted daughter-in-law who refused to leave her stranded in her sorrow.
Ruth made a vow to the broken mother, “Where you die, I will die. And there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Vs. 17)
Home was wherever they stood. Together. Broken. In need. Hungry. Clinging to a thread of hope and each other. We were never meant to do this thing called life on our own. Love doesn’t walk out on you when all of life gives way and crumbles; it stands with you even though you tell it to go away. You may feel like you have nothing to offer in a state of brokenness, but with all my heart I believe that letting people love you and loving them back means a complete willingness to show them our “ugly.” We shouldn’t have to jump through invisible hoops in hopes of earning unconditional love, but we do. We jump through hoops. We go through the motions. We fake it trying to mask the pain.
When Naomi spilled out her bitter complaint blaming the very God who gave her a determined daughter I see no reply of reproach or index finger in her face, just a hand to hold as they return to a land at beginning of the harvest season. A quiet presence walking with her through the hurt, Ruth steps in to nurture Naomi and work another man’s land to provide for her. Ruth works hard and finds herself content with leftovers. Proving herself a virtuous woman, the people take notice. The Kinsmen Redeemer takes notice of her and rewards her. Gleaning for leftovers turns into prosperity, wedding bells, sounds of babies crying, and second chances.
The God we serve does not give us leftovers. He goes all out with the full spread, He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. He fills our cups until they overflow as goodness and mercy follow us. Not just on certain days, but all of our days. (Ps 23:5-6)
He is the hand we want to hold and the friend who walks with us through the mess. So work the land, cry your tears, but give God your broken today and your hopeful tomorrow.
Let the bitterness spill out in salty form and pray until it’s emptied out.
“Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be The Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” (Ruth 4:14-15)
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the hands I get to hold along this journey, I feel like that devoted daughter that says till death do we part. I want to be better than seven sons, diligently working with these soft hands and soft heart while my God takes notice.
We take turns nurturing the generations, loving them, tending to them, and listening when our Naomi’s offer instructions on how to live, grieve and return back to a place of hopefulness. Find your Naomi and adopt her. Find your Ruth and let her be a little clingy at times. We need each other, we really do.
Much love to you,