Focal Passage: Ruth 1:6-18
My dad spent the last year of his life in nursing home care. It is not where he would have chosen to be. It was the choice of necessity. Yet, he didn’t complain and made the best of the life before him. It would, and it did, end one day.
Elimelech and Naomi’s home had been Bethlehem. It had been their ancestral home for many generations. It was the birthplace of their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and under normal circumstances, Bethlehem would have remained their home for life. However, circumstances dictated change.
The famine in Bethlehem forced them to consider other options, and they chose the land of Moab where they expected to live “for a while” (Ruth 1:1b).
Now for many Hebrews a journey and stay in Moab would have been more like purgatory than paradise, but they gave it their best shot. Unfortunately, Elimelech died, and some years later, sons Mahlon and Chilion also died.
Those left in Moab were the women, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.
Naomi, whose name means “pleasant,” became very unpleasant. She understandably became bitter (v. 14) because of her devastating losses.
The focal passage describes Naomi’s decision to go back home. She had rightly concluded there was nothing to keep her in the alien land of Moab. The famine in Bethlehem had passed, and in Bethlehem there was some family left on her husband’s side. Furthermore, Orpah and Ruth were still young enough to find new husbands in the land of Moab.
An interesting twist in the story happens when Naomi, who is experiencing a crisis of faith, agrees to let Ruth accompany her on this journey. Ruth, the Moabite, taught to worship a pagan god, now chose not only Naomi but Naomi’s God and whatever future Naomi’s God would provide (v. 18).
Crisis can make us bitter or better. It can devastate us, or increase our faith and devotion. My dad’s faith grew, I believe, because of how he handled his own Moab.