Have you ever felt like your family journey just didn’t measure up? It may seem like the endless cycle of suffering and dysfunction is a constant reality in your life. If you or someone you know can relate, keep reading.
Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah. – Ruth 1: 3 – 7 (NLT)
The person of interest here is Naomi, a grieving widow who’d also lost two sons and everything related to what she knew as good. And the road trip back home was no glamorous trek to bliss or a brag-worthy Instagram post ready to share with the masses.
Perhaps Naomi and her now deceased spouse hadn’t made the right decision to journey to Moab, their dream destination, so long ago. Years prior, the famine of their hometown, Bethlehem, had put their little scared hearts on the run. The thought of abundant food, a plentiful harvest, and endless provision simply seemed like the right thing to lean toward.
But Moab proved to be a pure contradiction to what Naomi sought out to initially achieve. There was tragedy after tragedy. One grievous moment after another. Naomi had lost everything – her family, sense of belonging, financial security, and even her dignity. How could she return home to Bethlehem with her head lifted high after leaving with the intention of living the good life?
The Lesson – God Has a Master Plan of Redemption
Still, Naomi had a couple of things going well for her: (1) a willingness to leave the very place that deprived her and (2) an eager daughter-in-law named Ruth (once married to her dead son) who had begged to tag along.
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. So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. – Ruth 1: 16 – 19 (NLT)
Could it be that God was redeeming Naomi’s family journey? It was true that the absolute worse parts of her life had to do with those she loved so deeply. But she was suddenly being drawn to the least likely things in the next phase of her journey: (1) moving her feet backward (to Bethlehem) and (2) adopting her daughter-in-law (Ruth).
It was in the the moving and adopting that Naomi faced the hard things that grief and loss can tell a person’s mind and heart to reject. Moving (versus remaining stagnant) actually positioned Naomi to reach for the necessary resources in order to heal. Adopting (versus remaining isolated) actually invited the healthy connection and community that she so desperately needed in order to gain strength.
The Family Journey – It’s Not Over
It was just like God to prove Himself strong in the weakest of times and moments in the life of Naomi. Her story simply wasn’t over.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” – Ruth 4: 13 – 15 (NLT)
The replenishment of the Lord was abundant in Naomi’s journey as her family grew richly again – in number and substance. With a new baby added to the family (through Ruth – her daughter-in-law), there was no doubt that God had a purpose for her pain and ultimate redemption. Naomi did indeed lead Ruth well despite the journey of suffering, grief, and a challenging transition. Through Naomi’s connection to Ruth and Boaz (Ruth’s new husband), a family lineage manifested from the prophetic mandate of heaven to produce the ultimate seed – Jesus Christ.
This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. – Ruth 4: 19 – 22 (NLT)
And in another place Isaiah said, “The heir to David’s throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hope on him. – Romans 15:12 (NLT)
Your Family Journey & Reflection
And although this post is not meant to insinuate that your particular suffering will cease to exist in the blink of an eye, it can be said that God is truly committed to the redemption of His people. This is no empty promise or fairy tale.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. – Psalm 34:18 (NLT)
How could moving (toward the necessary resources) and adopting (a healthy community, circle, or connection) help propel you forward into healing and strength? What renewed sense of purpose could be waiting on the other side of your transition? How could God be using your current situation to help you lead your family well?