It so happened that Naomi had a relative by marriage, a man prominent and rich, connected with Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz.
One day Ruth, the Moabite foreigner, said to Naomi, “I’m going to work; I’m going out to glean among the sheaves, following after some harvester who will treat me kindly.” Naomi said, “Go ahead, dear daughter.”
And so she set out. She went and started gleaning in a field, following in the wake of the harvesters. Eventually she ended up in the part of the field owned by Boaz, her father-in-law Elimelech’s relative. A little later Boaz came out from Bethlehem, greeting his harvesters, “God be with you!” They replied, “And God bless you!”
Boaz asked his young servant who was foreman over the farm hands, “Who is this young woman? Where did she come from?”
The foreman said, “Why, that’s the Moabite girl, the one who came with Naomi from the country of Moab. She asked permission. ‘Let me glean,’ she said, ‘and gather among the sheaves following after your harvesters.’ She’s been at it steady ever since, from early morning until now, without so much as a break.”
Then Boaz spoke to Ruth: “Listen, my daughter. From now on don’t go to any other field to glean—stay right here in this one. And stay close to my young women. Watch where they are harvesting and follow them. And don’t worry about a thing; I’ve given orders to my servants not to harass you. When you get thirsty, feel free to go and drink from the water buckets that the servants have filled.”
She dropped to her knees, then bowed her face to the ground. “How does this happen that you should pick me out and treat me so kindly—me, a foreigner?
Boaz answered her, “I’ve heard all about you—heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you’ve done—and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings.”
She said, “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!
At the lunch break, Boaz said to her, “Come over here; eat some bread. Dip it in the wine.”
So she joined the harvesters. Boaz passed the roasted grain to her. She ate her fill and even had some left over.
When she got up to go back to work, Boaz ordered his servants: “Let her glean where there’s still plenty of grain on the ground—make it easy for her. Better yet, pull some of the good stuff out and leave it for her to glean. Give her special treatment.”
Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. When she threshed out what she had gathered, she ended up with nearly a full sack of barley! She gathered up her gleanings, went back to town, and showed her mother-in-law the results of her day’s work; she also gave her the leftovers from her lunch.
Naomi asked her, “So where did you glean today? Whose field? God bless whoever it was who took such good care of you!”
Ruth told her mother-in-law, “The man with whom I worked today? His name is Boaz.”
Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, God bless that man! God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!” Naomi went on, “That man, Ruth, is one of our circle of covenant redeemers, a close relative of ours!”
Ruth the Moabitess said, “Well, listen to this: He also told me, ‘Stick with my workers until my harvesting is finished.’”
Naomi said to Ruth, “That’s wonderful, dear daughter! Do that! You’ll be safe in the company of his young women; no danger now of being raped in some stranger’s field.”
So Ruth did it—she stuck close to Boaz’s young women, gleaning in the fields daily until both the barley and wheat harvesting were finished. And she continued living with her mother-in-law.
My prayer, my hope, and my dream has always been that my sons would choose women who have given their lives over to Christ as their life partners. They have not. This is a deep ache in my heart; however, I have not given up hope. I pray for both of my beautiful, smart, competent daughters-in-law. I know God controls everything; therefore, I must believe that God has placed these young women in our family’s life—and in my life—for a very specific reason. Isaiah 55:8 says,“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. So as I work to build trust in these new family relationships, I’ve stopped asking God why and I’ve persisted in praying that I can show a love that is a 1 Corinthians 13:4 love…always patient, always kind.
I can imagine that Ruth and Naomi went through this same process of building trust and affection early in their relationship. Ruth was integrated into her husband’s family. Her values and traditions would have been profoundly different because she was from a completely different tribe. Scripture calls her the “Moabite foreigner”! Both of my daughters-in-law are American, so that is one challenge I do not face, but some days it indeed feels like we don’t speak the same language!
It is clear that there is a deep and abiding love that grows up between Ruth and Naomi. After their time of grief they learn to cling to one another because there is no one else. First Naomi’s husband dies and then both her sons are taken. A woman in this culture at this time would now be totally destitute without a man to take care of her. So what a comfort and support Naomi found in Ruth! Ruth was a fighter at a time when Naomi was totally consumed by bitterness and depression. Ruth’s choice was to have faith in God despite the fact that Naomi knew to her core that God had forsaken her. Ruth’s faith had to, for the time, suffice for the both of them. I love this quote from Oswald Chambers…“Faith never knows where it is being led, it knows and loves the One Who is leading. Faith is not resignation to a power we do not know; faith is committal to One Whose character we do know because it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.”
Ruth, stalwart and resolute, is led by God to glean in the right field at the right time. Her faith and persistence are rewarded and she finds an able and willing protector in Boaz. His favor is the glimmer of light in what was a dark time. His attention ignites a spark of hope in Ruth and then in Naomi. Boaz says, “I’ve heard all about you—heard about the way you treated your mother in law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you’ve done—and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings.”
We must live in hope.
Hope is what causes us to pray and ask God to please, “in your wisdom and your sovereignty, guide us to the right person at the right time.” Then, if we are in right standing with Him and attune with His spirit, He will show us the right choices, attitudes and responses to maximize the opportunities He provides.
Imagine Naomi’s joy when she realizes all that has taken place! Nothing is certain, but there is reminder and the assurance that indeed God provides. It doesn’t take a lot, have you noticed? The winged dove that is hope rises swiftly with the smallest tidbit of kindness or encouragement! Why is that so surprising? For if God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
This story gives me hope. I’m hopeful in my newly forming, somewhat tenuous and fragile relationships with both my daughters-in-law. I’m hopeful that my prayers for their marriages will be heard and answered. I’m hopeful that somehow, with God’s help, I can be the conduit of God’s love and grace and that they see Christ in me.
In his New Testament Commentary Warren Wiersbe states, “One person, trusting the Lord and obeying His will, can change a situation from defeat to victory.” So whether your daughter-in-law is a Christian or not, whether you get along like peas and carrots or often find yourself just keeping the peace, you too can lean on these truths from God’s word…
- Choose to love unconditionally. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
- Pray continually as instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
- Speak encouragingly and when this fails, choose silence! “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and if it is best left unsaid? Remember Proverbs 10:19, “The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.”
- Offer support (not judgement) gently as advised in James 3: 17-18 “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.”
- Remember that everything God does is good, right and perfect. His understanding is infinite because He is the Alpha and the Omega—He sees everything at once and He knows the end of the story! “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.’” (Revelation 21:5-6)
How about you? If you’re a daughter-in-law, you can think and pray this way for your mother-in-law, just as Ruth surely did for Naomi. If you’re a mother-in-law, commit to thinking and praying this way for your adopted daughter. After all, this woman isn’t a stranger any longer—she is now, by the grace of God—within your influence! She can’t escape knowing and seeing what it means to live as a disciple of the living God! She has you!
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
~1 Corinthians 13:13
Let go of discouragement and discordance and focus on hope and love. Rest in God’s total control of your life. Remember He is the Alpha and the Omega! He would never put someone in your family randomly or accidentally. He has plans for you. Lay your head on your pillow every night knowing and believing this truth—He is your rock and your redeemer! He has you in the palm of His hand and He will never let you go!
Jesus Lord, teach me to love as you love…simply, unconditionally and with passion. Find me thankful and grateful and on my knees asking for your wisdom, peace, and love to be the absolute rule in my family relationships. I seek your heart in this and in all things because I trust you in all things. Amen.
Worship God through this powerful Hillsong anthem to hope: Let Hope Rise. As you listen, embrace these words of Jesus Christ: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is at the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.