Ordinary People Achieving the Extraordinary for God
The Bible narrative of Ruth is an account of how God uses an ordinary person to perform the extraordinary. And chapter one of Ruth encapsulates this. As we read the chapter, we read of how God used Ruth, a person who at first could seem quite ordinary.
Verses 1 - 5 describe disastrous times of famine, bereavement, widowhood, hunger, and refugees; in a time of war and political instability (Judges 3: 1 - 6). A description all too real for those living and working in the developing world of the 21st Century. When we look at the words of Naomi we see one who is grief stricken and despairing.
In verses 6 -18 however, God is at work. In verse 6 we read that He sent His word of how He was rescuing people. Naomi decides to return to her people, but again we are not spared her grief and despair expressed towards God. How often today do we hear the cry of HIV positive mothers despairing at the loss of their husbands and at the uncertainty, when they too are gone, of what will happen to their children?
But the account changes with the decision of one person, Ruth (vs16 -17), to abandon her old gods, to serve Naomi and the one true God, with no going back. The provision of Ruth is God’s answer to Naomi’s cry for help.
The remainder of the book of Ruth is the account of how Ruth continues to walk alongside Naomi in a serving and faithful manner and of how God blesses Ruth and Naomi. But we also know now that all mankind would be blessed through one of her descendants, Jesus Christ, the perfect example of serving, who ‘did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10: 45).
And where does Ruth get the strength from to give so much day by day? From her faith (v16), shown in deciding for God. And we see from her prayer in verse 17, ‘May the LORD deal with me…’ she knows whom she is following.
Verses 19 - 22 show ‘Dependence on God’. Even with the provision of Ruth, Naomi struggles to deal with the crises that she is facing. Just like Job and the psalmist, she pours out her honest feelings of grief - they take God seriously (v20). But again God answers with the provision of the humble daughter in law, Ruth, in verse 22 - where we also see the mention of the barley harvest, an end to famine, a provision from God.
With faith and a serving humble commitment, the seemingly ordinary Ruth performed the extraordinary, not only for Naomi, but also for eternity. By walking alongside people in their times of need, God can perform great things through us all, for His glory.