“And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – Ruth 4:14-15
“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” – Psalm 68:5-6
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
I have fallen in love with grocery pickup services. They make me feel gloriously efficient, even on my most disorganized day. I scroll, check my items, and check out, and an invisible minion runs the aisles of the store, collecting all the hopes and dreams in my shopping cart.
And if they don’t have an item in stock (here’s the best part), they choose a more expensive and extravagant item to replace it. Often, it’s something that I would never even think to order. And although I already feel spoiled letting them load everything into my embarrassingly messy car, I gratefully accept the upgrade.
In Ruth 4, Naomi gets an extravagant upgrade from the hands of a loving God. And as I move through different seasons of life, I see new perspectives and new promises in this timeless story.
Naomi and Elimelech leave their hometown of Bethlehem, moving to Moab to escape famine (Ruth 1:1-5). But their escape plan is the end of them. Elimelech dies, and their two sons, now entrenched in a godless culture, marry Moabite women and finally, die childless themselves.
With all hope gone, Naomi finally heads home. Daughter-in-law Orpah returns to her family, but Ruth is drawn to Naomi and her God. And no sooner do they set foot back in the place of blessing, when God starts to do a mighty work on their behalf (Ruth 1:6-21).
Ruth finds fields to glean in that just so happen to belong to a distant relative of Naomi’s long-dead husband (Ruth 2). And now, Naomi’s faith starts to wake up (Ruth 3). She sees the possibilities, and in the end, Boaz (a type of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ) marries Ruth and gives both women a new life.
But here’s where my head is this week. I know too many Naomi’s and so many Ruth’s (and I have been there – really, I have). But this story contains so many promises for the lonely, the lost, and the hurting. And like Naomi, your ending can be gloriously different from your beginning.
So let’s look at the ending (Ruth 4). Boaz and Ruth have a son. And Naomi – once defined by widowhood and loss and isolation in a strange land – is now home again, surrounded by women who bless her, a God-fearing community (really read Ruth 4:14-17). Naomi goes from having no security, to being under the protection and provision of her kinsman redeemer, Boaz. Her lands are restored, and the daughter-in-law who refused to leave has turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. And she is both grandmother and nurse to little Obed. Naomi is useful and needed and loved again.
My friend, if you are in a season of loneliness and emptiness, regardless of how you got there, God can restore what you’ve lost (Psalm 27:10, 34:18, 37:3-6, Isaiah 54:1-5, 61:7, Jeremiah 30:17, Joel 2:25-26, Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:28, II Timothy 1:12). And He can do it in awesome and unexpected ways that defy your wildest dreams, but you have to get back to Bethlehem.
When Naomi returned to God’s place of blessing, God completely upgraded her circumstances. He took that solitary woman and put her in a thriving family (Psalm 68:6, Acts 2:44-47, Hebrews 10:24-25).
I’m just going to come right out and say it – If you’re not in a church, find a church. Find a Bible-believing, Bible-living Christian community where you can grow and be supported and where God can surprise you with His goodness. Stop living in Moab and wondering why life is so lonely and pointless and hopeless. Stop depriving yourself of all that God wants to do in your life. Stop thinking that your dreams of relationships, and family, and a meaningful life can only come in one, specific package. God is so much greater than our preconceived notions, and so much more loving than we imagine (Job 13:15, Psalm 23:5-6, 71:20-21, Jeremiah 17:14, John 10:10, I Peter 5:10).
Leave the loneliness behind. Find your place in the family of God. Don’t let bitterness or bad experiences hold you back. Open yourself to new possibilities and new places of grace in your life. God is a Redeemer and a Restorer, and while the perfect church may not exist, the perfect ending to your story does. Take the upgrade.
Take the upgrade. Give God your broken dreams and let Him give you the dreams, the family, and the purpose you never even knew you wanted.