God Still Has a Plan for Youby Cynthia Jennings on September 28, 2022
There are times in life when you might find yourself growing bitter about an unexpected situation, especially when you don’t know the outcome. I’ve been there several times in my life. In one of those moments, I remember reading about two women, Naomi and Ruth. They both had a choice between becoming bitter or better.
Naomi experienced a series of unfortunate events in her life. She lives in Bethlehem with her husband and their two sons. A famine hits Judea so Naomi, her husband and two sons relocated to Moab (Ruth 1:1). There her sons marry two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Ten years later tragedy strikes. Not only did Naomi’s husband die, her two sons died as well, leaving Naomi, Orpah and Ruth widows (Ruth 1:3-5).
Time passes and Naomi hears the famine in Judea is over and decides to return home (Ruth 1:6).
Even in Naomi’s bitter state of mind and desperate situation she had a selfless attitude. As Naomi set out on the road to Judea, she said to her daughters- in- law “return to your mother’s home” (Ruth 1:8). Naomi encourages her daughters- in-law to stay in Moab to start their lives over, even though this would mean hardship for her. Orpah decided to stay but Ruth was adamant about going with Naomi.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Not only did this show how deeply loyal Ruth was to Naomi, it also showed Ruth’s commitment to follow Naomi’s God as well. Ruth and Naomi were family. Ruth made her home in a foreign land. And instead of depending on Naomi or waiting for good fortune to happen, she took the initiative…she went to work.
Ruth’s initiative demonstrated a mystifying strength beneath her grief. She wept as Naomi did, but not without hope. She worries, but also worships, she has tough days and yet persists in putting one foot in front to the other. Naomi became hard and bitter (Ruth 1:20); Ruth inexplicably remains softhearted and open.
One day Ruth informs Naomi she plans to glean barley in the fields. Jewish law allows the poor to gather extra barley so they won’t go hungry. Ruth providentially ends up in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband. He extends kindness to her (Ruth 2:8-9) and says, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me….The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:10-11).
This is the beginning of an unexpected love story. A story that ends with Ruth marrying Boaz and not only giving birth to the grandfather of King David but also becoming part of the Messiah’s lineage.
God still has a plan for you!
Naomi’s family line will continue, and for the first time in many years, she dares to dream about the future again (Ruth 4:13). When the women of the town come to see the baby, they said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” (Ruth 4:14-15).
At first, Naomi chose bitter. Ruth chose better. Naomi gave up hope. Ruth kept pushing forward. Naomi believed her life was over. Ruth trusted God still had a plan beyond what she could understand.
At some point in life, we all find ourselves acting like Naomi. What matters is, when we recognize we’re slipping into bitterness, in those moments we find an accountability partner, that most needed friend, a Pastor or other support person. What matters is that we help each other not give up because God is always working out an unseen providential plan, even when we don’t understand.
Bitterness and anxiety tell us, “It’s all over.” But faith, and the “Ruth” in our lives remind us “God isn’t finished with our story yet.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, often it seems easier to choose bitter instead of better, give me the strength to keep trusting You have a plan beyond what I can see or understand. I pray for patience in the waiting. Give me the courage to reach out to a Ruth when I need to, and guidance on how to be a Ruth to someone as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
PEARLStoPONDER: Do you have that one person you contact when you’re feeling bitter? That person who will remind you that God is working even if you don’t understand.