But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. (Ruth 1:16-18 NLT).
The book of Ruth, tells the story of a determined woman, who leaves everything behind in order to assist a family member in need. Not only do we see tragedies that befall on her–the loss of her husband and the loss of her homeland to famine–but we see her triumph and the wonders that she performs by God that ultimately restores her new family.
God often uses the most unlikely people to accomplish his plans and purposes and in this story, Ruth, a Moabite widow, leaves her homeland to care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, who is also a widow. Ruth was not part of God’s chosen people (Israel)–she was married to one of Naomi’s sons–however, it did not deter her from following God and helping her mother-in-law in need.
The verse above was spoken, by Ruth, when Naomi told her, and her other daughter-in-law, (at the middle of the journey to Naomi’s homeland) to leave her behind and to travel back home to their real mothers. Orpah (not Oprah), the other daughter-in-law, obeyed her request but Ruth did not. Instead Ruth insisted that stayed with Naomi, and to never leave her side. And when Naomi saw this, she had no choice but to take her. But it wouldn’t be this act that would impress Naomi.
When Naomi and Ruth arrived to Bethlehem, people were astonished to see Naomi; but Naomi was not. She told everyone to not call her Naomi anymore but Mara instead (which means “bitter”) for God has given her so many tragedies: the loss of her husband, two sons, and loss of her crops. However, it would be Ruth’s determination and faith in God that helps Naomi (which means “pleasant”) to be pleasant once more in the eyes of God. Ruth did not not only provide bountiful harvest for Naomi, but land and a son to redeem her family name. Boaz, a wealthy and influential man (who helped Ruth in her quest for good crops), as well as a close relative to Naomi, had this to say about Ruth:
I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.
And so, Ruth did the impossible; and restored Naomi’s faith–a faith that did not belong to her.
Women are the backbone in every society, and in every home across the world. This miracle, performed by God, demonstrates to us all the strength and determination of a woman and why we (including men) must admire and honor them–like Boaz did when she learned of Ruth’s actions.
This week’s spiritual lesson: to honor women in every facet and to let your actions speak louder than your words. Ruth made a solemn vow to Naomi, which she strongly upheld, and in return she harvested greatly for what she has sown–in her words.