You’re Not Your Past or Your Pain: Lessons from the Book of Ruth

You’re Not Your Past or Your Pain: Lessons from the Book of Ruth September 15, 2014

BC_CollidingwithDestiny_1by Bethanie Ryan

In her new book Colliding with Destiny, Sarah Jakes explores the book of Ruth to harvest for us what messages she might have for people today. Ruth has long been one of my favorite books of the Bible. As a feminist, I appreciate the fact it is led by two strong women. As an armchair Biblical scholar, I like to explore the world in which Ruth and Naomi lived in order to better understand them. As a woman who has seen suffering, I love all of the lessons Ms. Jakes takes out of Ruth’s story just for me.

As a Catholic that is admittedly often stuck in a bubble, I did wish I had a non-denominational, evangelical Christian dictionary like this one. I might’ve missed a couple layers of this deep inspirational writing due to nuances lost in translation. However, it didn’t diminish my appreciation for the book.

For those who do not know, Ruth is the story of a young woman who after the death of her father-in-law and husband decides to break social convention and risk it all to stick by her bereaved mother-in-law’s side. She accompanies her to an unfamiliar land. As women didn’t have any power in those days, she does what she can to provide for herself and the older woman. As fate would have it, she does find love with a gentleman named Boaz who takes both of the women in. Ruth, a non-Israelite, consequently (or through divine providence) becomes an ancestor to David and ultimately to Jesus.

This isn’t a Cinderella tale, however. As Sarah Jakes unwraps this tale in Colliding with Destiny, it is seen that Ruth isn’t a helpless damsel in distress. She works hard and takes risks. She opens herself up to potential destitution and rejection. Ultimately, she does not only fall in love with Boaz, but with the Israelite God as she sacrifices it all to follow His will.

Her story is an inspiration for all of us who hope that things will turn out all right in the end. Her behavior is a role-model for us in trying to be people of faith in the modern world. Her openness should help us to be open to God’s will and the love that surrounds us.

I walk away from this book with an interest in reading Ms. Jake’s autobiography. The first three chapters made me bawl like a little baby. They hit home for me. I’m sure some other chapters in this book will hit home for you. I recommend it especially for study in small, close groups of women. As she mentions many times in her book, we need to build each other up rather than tear each other down. I hope that you find it as helpful as I did.

Read an excerpt from Colliding with Destiny at the Patheos Book Club here.

DSC_2604-2Bethanie Ryan is a work-at-home mother. When she is not chasing around a rambuncous two-year-old, she is dividing her time between John Paul II Center for Women and Feminists for Life. She writes for several websites including her own, True Dignity of Women.

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