Their names were Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah; three strangers who became family. All three suffered great loss. All three faced an uncertain future.
It must have been hard for Naomi to suggest that she complete her journey alone. It must have been hard for Orpah to say goodbye and stay behind. It must have been hard for Ruth to remain by Naomi’s side. But they each did that which was hard, and we have the pleasure of reading about it in the book of Ruth.
When I think of these three women, I attempt to place myself in their shoes. The period of time in which they lived presented an array of obstacles unimaginable to most of us. Without husbands or sons to provide and protect them, they were facing extremely difficult and potentially dangerous futures. Try as I might, I’m unable to fully grasp the magnitude of grief and fear known to them.
Naomi was put out with God. She couldn’t understand how He would allow such things to happen.
She had traveled with her husband into a foreign land with their young sons and, though times were tough, her heart was full. But now her husband and sons were dead and only she remained – a widow in a foreign place with no sons to care for her – empty-handed, brokenhearted.
Her mind could not fathom her current reality. She was sure God was angry with her. She was certain His hand had turned against her. What else could explain how she had gone away full and returned empty?
We, too, have a difficult time wrapping our minds around reality when even our best days are filled with difficulty. We, too, must make hard decisions. We must move forward despite our grief. We must put on a brave face regardless of the fear we hold inside. We must, like these women, put one foot in front of the other, determined to somehow overcome the hard seasons.
This looks different for each of us. We may think, as Naomi did, that God has abandoned us. But if we continue doing whatever good we know to do, if we keep our eyes open to whatever opportunities arise, then we’ll begin to see, as Ruth and Naomi did, that God has been at work all along.