One of my favourite stories in the bible is that of Naomi, written in the Book of Ruth. Naomi, her husband and their sons left Judah to go to Moab following a severe famine. Naomi’s husband and her sons later died, leaving her with two Moabitie daughter-in-laws. Upon hearing that God had come to help His people, Naomi set out to return to Bethlehem, Judah. The daughters-in-law insisted on going with her and Naomi tried to dissuade them but in doing so, she also revealed a heart that was struggling to hope.
Even if I thought there was still hope for me… (Ruth 1:12)
It’s hard to miss Naomi’s deep sense of hopelessness. She had suffered tragic losses and was preparing to endure a brutal reality as a poor, childless, widowed woman. No doubt she felt like she was doomed to sad days for the rest of her life but little did Naomi know, that by the grace of God, the best was yet to come. God was doing this for her good (Romans 8:28)!
Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, returned to Bethlehem with her and eventually married a wealthy man named Boaz. By the grace of God, not only were Naomi and Ruth provided for in regard to their earthly material needs but God blessed Ruth and Boaz with a son named Obed.
In Ruth 4:16 we read,
The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
This is the verse that always brings a tear to my eye. Naomi left Moab expecting to have nothing else to celebrate, nothing else to be joyful about but God restored her joy in the most unexpected way. Ruth, too, must have been filled with anxiety as she left her homeland to go wherever Naomi was returning. She must have imagined difficult days ahead or wondered how her life was going to turn out but her faithfulness was rewarded. Not only was her great grandchild King David but she was also in the lineage of Jesus, the Messiah.
The wonderful truth is that no matter how hopeless you think your situation is, God has the upper hand. Sometimes when we can’t see a way out, we panic, rather than trust that God knows exactly what He is doing. We see our limitations and in our fearful mindsets, we lose sight of his mighty power. But God’s plans were made with love and He holds in his hand the big picture that we cannot see.
In Isaiah 55:8 God says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD
Our Heavenly Father’s ways are creative and if we remember that, we can live in a state of hopeful anticipation.