This is in no way health and fitness related. But the story of Ruth has been pondering in my heart for the past two months. So, I have decided to do a little study on the book of Ruth and her journey. I thought I’d share it with you guys.
I read a quote that said: once you have given your heart to Jesus, it’s impossible to keep your faith and your “normal” life separate. My faith is everything to me. And although this post is not fitness related, this is an integral part of my life. It might mean something to you, or it might not. None the less. It’s something dear to my heart and have so much meaning to me. Trust that it might bless some of you as well!
The story about Ruth is a story of the ultimate display of faithfulness, sacrifice and obedience. It’s a story of enduring hardships and making a choice to face those hardships rather than to run away from them. It’s about learning to trust the process regardless of how uncomfortable the spot is that you might find yourself in at the moment.
Before we go deeper into the things we can learn from Ruth, let’s just refresh our minds on Ruth’s story:
Ruth was a Moabitish woman; she married a man from the tribe of Judah. Ruth’s in laws – Elimelech and Naomi – with their sons Mahlon & Chilion, moved to Moab as there was famine in Bethlehem, where they were from. Whilst they were living in Moab, Elimelech passed away and Naomi and her sons remained in Moab. The son’s both got married – Chilion to Orpah and Mahlon to Ruth.
As we all know, both Mahlon & Chilion also passed away and Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, where she came from originally. When Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, she told her daughters in law to also return to their families and to re-marry again. Naomi was old and had nothing to offer her daughters in law. No sons whom they could marry, no money, nothing. And therefore, she asked Orpah and Ruth to go back to their families – hoping that their families would be able to give them a better future than she could. Orpah did as Naomi instructed, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side. We all know the verse where Ruth told Naomi in Ruth 1:16 “Urge me not to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” Naomi realised that Ruth was not going anywhere and made peace with it even though she might have thought that Ruth was making the wrong choice.
When they returned to Judah, the people recognised Naomi, but she told them to no longer call her Naomi (meaning pleasant) – and rather call her Mara which means bitterness. When we get tempted to speak negative due to the circumstances we face, we must choose to refrain from it. Blurting out negative things when we are in pain are unfruitful. We should aim to keep our focus on our hope, the hope we have found in Christ. The stronger our hope grows, the easier it will become to step away from our emotions in negative situations and still honor God despite the things we face.
Surely one might say that Naomi had reason to be bitter… She has lost her husband, both of her sons, she had to endure a famine and she had to move back to Judah, even though she had nothing.
The circumstances that Naomi had to face made her bitter. The word bitter refers to something that is pungent or sharp to the taste. Naomi was in bondage of the pain she experienced. And the sad thing is, if we don’t deal with the bondage we are in – bondage will lead to bitterness.
Just imagine taking a big bite of horseradish. I don’t know about you, but I cringe simply by the thought of that! When we hold on to pain and bondage from our past – that is exactly what happens in our spirit. Spiritually we are consuming gigantic bites of horseradish on a daily basis – and our spirit becomes bitter.
Because Naomi was bitter inside, she accused God of dealing “bitterly” with her. And hence she asked the people from there on forward to call her Mara. Bitterness does not simply come from big things like losing a loved one. It can come from little things; we can barely recall happening. Or something small that you might think it should not have to bother you, but for some reason it does!
The longer we allow our past to control our emotions, the longer we hold on to fear, anger, resentment, disappointment – the stronger those roots will grow in our spiritual lives. And the fruit will be visible in our daily walk. The stronger those roots grow the more they affect your entire being; our personalities; our outlook on life; our perspective and attitude.
Like Naomi & Orpah, we also tend to allow our circumstances to dictate our lives. When we face cross roads like Orpah did – continue with her mother in law on the journey or turn around and seek a better life – how easily do we also do what Orpah did. Things did not turn out the way we expected it to and then we want out. Most of the time we are not willing to face hardships if we can find a way to prevent them. And I am not saying we should just sit back and watch as all terrible things come our way. What I am saying is, that sometimes the best choice for you might actually be to face those hard things. God honors sacrifice. And sometimes, even though our current situation might suck – God might be testing your heart. And if you are willing to trust Him and His ways – blessings might be in store for you!
Once again – disclaimer – I am not saying God brought your circumstances over you. I believe that live is a serious of choices. And the choices you make and the choices the people around you and your bloodline have made all pays out on your life. But God made us with a free will. Hence, life is a series of choices. What happened in you past and in your life at this stage might not be due to your own choices. But our own healing is our own choice and your responsibility.
Ruth grew up in Moab, a city where idol worship was accustomed. The people from Moab was full of sin. But amidst it all – Ruth kept herself tender and pure. What a testimony – in a world where we as born-again believers often get backlash from so many religious people – we can relate so much to Ruth. Regardless of your circumstances around you and how the people around you are living – the way you live is your choice. You can remain tender and pure even when the world around you are everything but that.
Ruth knew that her future with Naomi was not the brightest future there might be. But she cared for Naomi and valued their relationship. She was committed to remain faithful to Naomi regardless how dim the circumstances looked. How beautiful is that? In today’s live, we all so often choose comfort over commitment. We want the easy way. But in the end, we miss out on the best things that God had in store for us! Simply because our fleshy desires were to strong and we were not willing to fight a few battles and get some dust on our knees.
Ruth did not know what the future might look like for her. But none the less she chose to be a woman of Godly character. Naomi and Ruth went through some hard times, but despite it all – Ruth kept a positive attitude. Ruth found a way to remain thankful with where she was at in her life and God kept on blessing her in supernatural ways.
After Naomi and Ruth returned to Judah, Naomi told Ruth to go work in the field of Naomi’s relative, Boaz. Boaz was a wealthy man and as we all know – Ruth ended up marrying Boaz. God turned Naomi’s situation around and made it good. Rom 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Just like God turned Naomi’s situation around – He can also turn your situation around. If only you would be willing to go lay down your worries and your fears at His feet! We need to continuously trust and believe that He is good – no matter the circumstances that we face.
Ruth 2:12 – “The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
The Bible is full of confirmation of the sowing and reaping principle. The seed we put in the ground, will bring a harvest. And it is up to us to decide which seed you will sow. Will it be bitterness and hurt or will it be faith and hope? God will return your harvest based on the seeds you have sown. God’s heart is to bless us, the only thing we have to do is to simply walk in faith, regardless of the circumstances we face.
Ruth’s choice to not run away from her sorrow and hardships brought her great blessings in the future. Ruth was willing to endure some suffering at times, having faith that it won’t last forever.
God honours sacrifice and obedience. He is a God of purpose! And sometimes in live we have to go through things that we don’t understand at times – but if we keep our eyes on God, we will get through it. And God will bless us! It’s inevitable to encounter hardships and situations that we would much rather avoid, than having to live through them. But if we wait patiently, trusting that God’s plan is greater and that He will fulfill His promises to us – we will be able to one day look back and see His hand in every little detail.
From Ruth’s story we can learn that loss does not mean everything is over. In fact, it’s far from over. It simply means that a certain chapter or a certain part of your journey is over. What we tend to forget is that once one chapter closes, a new chapter can unravel. A new season is about to start – all you have to do is to be willing to look forward – trusting that God will fulfill His promises to you!
Ruth prayed and stepped out in faith. She believed with everything in her that God will fulfill His promises to her. And He did!!! There is restoration in sowing. You don’t have to be “healed” to walk the journey or to help others. In helping others, God will bring healing to your life as well. Sowing and Reaping.
Ruth was known as a woman of strength, bravery and capability. Not because of a titled she owned or of a career she had. Ruth was known for her character. To have faith despite her circumstances. To trust God when all she could see was darkness.
Striving to be like Ruth – is something so close to my heart. And something we all can relate to. May we continuously keep our eyes on God, growing our faith and sowing seeds of faith regardless of our circumstances. God honors sacrifice and obedience. And you will reap the fruits of your labor! What an amazing privilege and an amazing prospect!