Christmas at Grandma's House: The Gospel According to Ruth

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Life Is Stressful

A recent survey found that this causes us more stress than anything else.
Can you guess what it was?
Believe it or not, the answer was: Moving.
When you think about what goes into a move — the decision to move, the forces that cause us to move, deciding where to move, packing, saying goodbyes, and making the journey, the cost of it all, the physical toil, the emotional toll — it’s not hard to see how big a stresser moving can be.

And all of these are found in the story of Ruth.

Ruth is an Old Testament hero, despite here gender, ethnicity, religious background, and lack of power, position, or prestige. Despite her hardships, or perhaps because of them, Ruth is an inspiration to us all. What’s more, she happens to be included in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah found in Matthew 1:1-17.

Ruth experienced God. She came to know him and found him faithful. But specifically, if Ruth were to bear witness of the goodness and grace of God, what might she say to you and me?

“God Was With Me in My Losses.”

Both Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, lost so much. The first five verses of the book named after her lay out in rapid fire storytelling just how much they lost.
A famine forced the family to move and lose their familiar culture and religion.
Then the father of the family, Elimelech, died.
Then Ruth married into the family, along with her sister-in-law, Orpah, but both their husbands died.
Then came preparation for a move back to Bethlehem, along with packing, goodbyes, and uncertainty about the future.

But Ruth could testify that God was with her in every loss she faced. This is good news for people like us. We too find ourselves forced to move or to make other major decisions due to economic factors and other factors out of our control.

Can you look back and see how God was with you even in times of loss?
What’s your testimonial of God’s faithfulness in times of chaos and confusion?

“God Was With Me in the In-Between.”

There’s nothing we like less than limbo. The waiting stage, when we just don’t know what’s coming next, is so difficult.

Do you remember waiting to meet your special someone? Maybe you’re still waiting. Or waiting to get pregnant? Or waiting to find out where you’d go to college (or IF you’d go)? Or waiting to get your driver’s license, to get into your first home, or to find out the results of a blood test? None of these is easy.

This is what we call “The In-Between”. It’s the journey from where we are to where we hope to be next. That journey can drag on and on. Or the issue may be what comes next. The unknown future is a big part of “the in-between”.

Note this: God often provides for us in the form of other people. Naomi found Ruth to be God’s unlikely source of strength and companionship. And what a companion.

Ruth decided to leave all that was familiar to her — her family, her hometown, her language, culture, food, friends — everything. She did this to remain by the side of her true friend who needed her — her mother-in-law, Naomi. But she found one thing to be true: God was with her in the journey, in the waiting for the unknown, in the dusty road between Moab and Bethlehem.

Can you stop and acknowledge God’s presence in your current situation?
What’s your testimonial of God’s faithful presence right now, where you are?

“God Was With Me in My New Normal.”

How long have you lived where you live, gone to school where you go to school, or worked where you work? Are you coming through or facing some kind of change?

Transitions are not easy. When we do learn where we’ll be, it doesn’t make everything easy. There are lots of adjustments in a new job or new town.

Ruth proved herself to be fiercely loyal, stunningly courageous, and doggedly determined. Such was her love for Naomi and her trust in the God of Israel.

But this heroic loyalty came with a price. She would now be a poor widow with few prospects, since Jewish men were not to marry foreigners. Back home, she was known as Ruth. From this point on, she would be known as “Ruth the Moabite”.

Are you a person in transition? Are you learning how to adapt to recent changes that have made the old way of doing things impossible?

Will you choose to recognize God’s presence with you now…and invite him to really guide you? What’s your testimonial of trust in God’s faithfulness for an unknown future?

The Takeaway for You and Me

Matthew 1:23 says, “…and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). The Gospel of Jesus says that God is with us, has always been with us, and will always be.

Ruth, despite her limited knowledge, experienced the presence of God all along her journey. You can too.

Question:
When have you experienced loss? (was he with you?)
What human companions did He provide to sustain you? (was he with you?)
What’s your new normal? (Is he with you there now?)

Take a moment and journal responses to these questions.
Take another moment to pray and invite God With Us to be with you right now.