Like many young girls, Ruth and Esther were two of my favorite Bible characters when I was growing up. Both were brave and courageous, and both had to make hard choices when it came to following their faith.
I’ve studied the book of Ruth on my own several times, and my husband recently taught a series on her in our Sunday School class. I’ve learned a lot from Ruth, but the overarching lesson that speaks to me is her trust in God.
I first see it in chapter one, when she tells Naomi, “your God will be my God.” We know that Ruth lives out that faith once she’s settled in Bethlehem, because in Ruth 2:12, Boaz says to Ruth, “…and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
I’m amazed at Ruth’s ability to leave her future in God’s hands. She willingly followed Naomi to an unknown country and faced an uncertain future. I would love to interview Ruth and find out what inspired her faith, and how she came to know the God she so fully trusted. Was it her husband’s testimony? Was it her mother-in-law’s example? Did she compare Jehovah to the false gods of her homeland?
In my 40-plus years, I’ve come to realize that learning to trust God is going to be a lifelong process. If I want to be a woman who trusts God like Ruth did, here are a few lessons I can learn from her story.
1. There are no coincidences with God. Ruth 2:3 says, “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz...” Ruth headed out to work, and “happened” to end up in the field of a kinsman redeemer, one of the few people who could provide a better life for Ruth and Naomi. God knew exactly which field He wanted Ruth to be in, and He guided her there. His plan for taking care of her was already at work, even when she had no clue about what was happening.
Just so in our lives, every step is planned, every circumstance is orchestrated. Even when we can’t see or understand the direction our life is taking, He is working behind the scenes to direct us in the way He wants us to go. Philip Yancey said, “I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
2. There is confidence in obeying what you know to do. In Ruth 3:5 we’re told, “And she [Ruth] said unto her [Naomi], All that thou sayest unto me I will do.” Ruth did as her mother-in-law instructed her, and followed the plan for approaching the kinsman redeemer, Boaz. Even though she may not have understood the customs, she obeyed what she knew she was supposed to do.
When I’m doing what I know God commands me to do in His Word, I can be confident in leaving the outcome to Him. On the other hand, if I’m going my own way and doing my own thing, how can I trust that God is going to bless me?
3. There’s value in sitting still and waiting. I’ve long loved this passage in Ruth 3:18. “Then said she [Naomi], Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall…” I can just imagine Ruth pacing around the house, stopping to look out the window to see if anyone was coming who might could tell her how things had gone between Boaz and the nearer kinsman.
I think we’d all agree that seasons of waiting on God to work can be agonizing. We often want to take matters into our own hands, to see if we can move things along in the direction we want them to go. Yet how many references are there in the Bible to waiting on God! One of my favorites is Psalm 27:14. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Truly, it takes courage to wait, yet this verse tells me that He’ll provide the strength I need while I wait. Just as with Ruth, good things – yes, the best things – can come to us as we’re willing to wait on God.
As we enter this second week of the new year, let’s all seek to follow Ruth’s example of trusting God, with our present as well as with our future!
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