Ruth in Advent
“I could just use a damn break!”
The exasperated mom of a middle school student made that exclamation in my friend’s office over a decade ago. The student was in trouble, and the mom already had as much as she could handle on her plate. It was a plaintive cry in the middle of too much. My friend and I have adopted it for when our lives are over-full, and when one more thing seems to be one thing too many. I wonder how people find themselves in a time like that today. If that’s you, perhaps consider the story of Ruth, one of Jesus’ ancestors, and the last of the women we’ll consider on these Fridays in Advent.
The book of Ruth comes as a welcome respite if one is reading the Old Testament straight through. After the violence and despair of Judges, and before the drama of Saul, David, and the other kings, Ruth’s story offers rest and hope. How perfect for Advent – rest and hope in the midst of anxiety and longing. How perfect on this Friday before Christmas – when our culture is ramped up at maximum speed, volume, and bitter division.
I encourage you to read the book of Ruth today and this weekend. It’s only about four pages long, and one can feel the movement from distress to peace as the story unfolds. Redemption comes to a young widow, and to a family, beautifully and unexpectedly.
There are many angles from which to consider Ruth’s story, but in the spirit of a break, a respite, let’s just consider one thing – the particular field in which Ruth ended up. Ruth lost everything in her homeland, and then she risked everything else by accompanying her mother-in-law back to Israel. Once they arrived, there was only one way for them to eat: Ruth went out into the fields and gathered the leftovers after the harvest. She had no guarantee that anything would ever be different. And yet, of all the fields around Bethlehem, she ended up in the one whose owner was noble and kind. She ended up in the one whose owner could legally and financially redeem her and her mother-in-law. She ended up in the one whose owner was raised by Salmon and Rahab (Matthew 1:5). What other man in Israel would have had the inclination to marry a foreign woman with nothing to offer him, except her courage and maybe her faith? Perhaps a man raised by a father who chose to marry a foreign prostitute with nothing to offer him except courage and faith. Ruth made the choices she made. And she ended up in the presence of the man who had both the power and kindness to redeem her life.
I would suggest to you today that we are all like Ruth. We have lost things that we can’t get back. We need things we can’t provide for ourselves. We have nothing to offer that our Redeemer needs. And yet He looks on us with kindness and delight. If you are in the middle of too much, He can give you rest and hope. Boaz is to Ruth as Jesus is to you. You can rest in His kindness today.